Radical Marxist group claims Istanbul palace attack bid

The man, named as Firat Ozcelik, hurled two grenades at the police honor guard on duty outside the palace but they failed to explode. (Courtesy: Anadolu Agency)

An outlawed Turkish Marxist group on Friday said it was behind an attempted attack on an Ottoman-era Istanbul palace that formerly held the offices of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) said one of its members carried out the attempted attack on Thursday afternoon outside the historic Dolmabahce palace in Istanbul on the Bosphorus.

The man, named as Firat Ozcelik, hurled two grenades at the police honor guard on duty outside the palace but they failed to explode.

He was swiftly arrested and on Friday morning was being interrogated by police in Istanbul, Turkish television said.

The DHKP-C said in a statement on its website that the “armed action had been realized by one of our warriors.”

The Dolmabahce Palace -- one of the last great palaces of the Ottoman Empire and also where the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, died in 1938 -- is one of Istanbul’s major tourist attractions.

Part of the palace is open to the public but another wing hosts reception rooms and offices of the Turkish prime minister, a post Erdogan held from 2003-2014 before becoming president.

The DHKP-C said it had been targeted as a reprisal for the death of Berkin Elvan, a teenage protester who died in March 2014 after spending 269 days in a coma due to injuries inflicted by the police in the mass anti-government protests of May-June 2013.

“The Justice and Development Party (AKP) are the killers” of Elvan, it said, referring to the ruling party. “Then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the massacre,” it added.

The Hurriyet daily said that Ozcelik shouted slogans in support of the DHKP-C after being arrested by police.

Besides the grenades the suspect was armed with a “very old” machine gun and a pistol, police said.

Ahmet Davutoglu, who succeeded Erdogan as prime minister, was not believed to be in the building at the time.

The DHKP-C -- a radical Marxist organization considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States -- has over the last years carried out a string of sporadic and sometimes deadly attacks in Turkey and abroad.

It claimed a suicide bombing in February 2013 at the US embassy in Ankara where a security guard was killed.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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