Middle East

Shots fired at police guarding Istanbul palace; officer hurt

A police officer secures the road that leads to Istanbul's Dolmabache Palace, background, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 following an armed attack. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ISTANBUL: Turkish police arrested two people Wednesday after a hand grenade was hurled and shots were fired at officers guarding Istanbul's Dolmabahce Palace, an Ottoman-era palace that is a major tourist attraction, the Istanbul governor's office said.

One police officer was slightly injured, according to the country's state-run news agency.

Later Wednesday, at least eight Turkish soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb detonated by Kurdish rebels in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast region, the military said.

Police apprehended two people in an area close to the palace and seized two hand-grenades, an automatic rifle, a hand gun and a large amount of ammunition, a statement from the Istanbul governor's office said. It did not identify the suspects or give a motive for the attack.

However, the state-run Anadolu Agency said the two assailants are members of the outlawed leftist group the Revolutionary People's Liberation Army-Front, or DHKP-C. It did not cite a source for the report.

The DHKP-C claimed responsibility for an attack earlier this month in which two female assailants opened fire at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul. No one was hurt in the attack but one of the assailants was shot by police and hospitalized.

The attacks come amid a sharp rise in violence between Turkey's security forces and the Kurdish rebels, and as Turkey has been conducting operations against the Islamic State group and others. Turkey last month rounded up more than 1,000 people linked to ISIS, the Kurdish rebels and the DHKP-C, after a suicide bomb attack blamed on IS killed 32 people. Turkish warplanes, meanwhile, have raided PKK targets in Iraq and in southeast Turkey in tandem with airstrikes against ISIS militants in Syria.

Close to 100 people, most of them police and soldiers, have been killed since July in the renewed violence between the security forces and the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, according to a count by The Associated Press.

An IS propaganda video released this week called Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a traitor for allowing the U.S. to use air bases for strikes against the group, and urged all Muslims in Turkey to join the ISIS in its fight against "crusaders, atheists and tyrants" in the country.

The police officers who were attacked were standing guard at an area far from the entrance used by visitors to the 19th century Dolmabahce Palace.

Margarita Paban, a visitor from Poland, said she heard a "boom" and three or four gun shots as she emerged from the tramway with her family.

She said they had no plans to cut their visit short.

"We have more sights to see," she said. "We haven't seen the Grand Bazaar or the Asian side yet."

The prime minister has an office inside the palace, situated on the shores of the Bosphorus strait, but was in the capital Ankara at the time of the attack.

 

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