Eight soldiers killed, Istanbul palace attacked as Turkish unrest mounts

Attacks come as Turkey struggles to form government

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Gunmen have opened fire on Turkish police outside an Istanbul palace and eight soldiers were killed in a bomb attack in the southeast on Wednesday, heightening a sense of crisis as the country’s political leaders struggle to form a new government.

The Istanbul governor’s office said two members of a “terrorist group” armed with hand grenades and an automatic rifle were caught after attacking the Dolmabahce palace, popular with tourists and home to the prime minister’s Istanbul offices.

There were no reports of casualties or an immediate claim of responsibility for the attack at Dolmabahce palace. The building has been targeted before by leftist militants.

Militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) meanwhile killed eight soldiers with a roadside bomb in the southeastern province of Siirt, the military said, intensifying a conflict there after the breakdown of a two-year ceasefire last month.

The unrest in the NATO member state comes weeks after it declared a “war on terror”, opening up its air bases to the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, launching air strikes on Kurdish militants, and detaining more than 2,500 suspected members of radical Kurdish, far-leftist and Islamist groups.

The latest attacks also come a day after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu gave up on efforts to form a new government after weeks of coalition talks with the opposition failed, paving the way for a new election potentially within months.

"Because of the failure to form a government, we have to seek a solution with the will of the people ... so we are heading rapidly towards an election again," President Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech.

Davutoglu was in the capital Ankara as reports of the shooting emerged and did not interrupt a speech he was giving live on television.

Turkey has been on heightened state alert since launching what Davutoglu described a
“synchronised war on terror” in July, exposing it to reprisals from ISIS sympathizers, Kurdish militants and leftist radicals alike.

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