Istanbul: Members of a banned leftist group took a prosecutor hostage in his office Tuesday inside a courthouse in Istanbul, authorities said. Police said negotiators were speaking to two militants in attempts to end the standoff.
Late Tuesday, gunshots were heard from inside the courthouse and ambulances rushed to the scene, private news agency Dogan reported.
Officials wouldn't immediately comment on the developments.“We are trying to resolve the issue without anyone being hurt,” Istanbul's police chief Selami Altunok said earlier, adding that police negotiators and Umit Kocasakal, the head of the Istanbul Bar Association, are talking to the militants.
Dogan said police special forces had entered the building, which was evacuated. It wasn't clear how the assailants sneaked the arms into the courthouse.
The state-run Anadolu Agency and state television, TRT, identified the prosecutor as Mehmet Selim Kiraz. He is the prosecutor investigating the death of a teenager who was hit by a police gas canister fired during nationwide anti-government protests in 2013.
A website close to the left-wing DHKP-C group said that militants from the banned organization had taken the prosecutor hostage at midday and had given authorities three hours to meet five demands, including forcing policemen held responsible for the teenager's killing to confess to the death.
The group also demanded that the policemen be tried by “peoples' courts” and for court officials to drop prosecutions or investigations against people who took part in protests denouncing the boy's death. The website showed a picture of someone holding a gun to a man's head with posters from the group in the background.
Deputy Chief Prosecutor Orhan Kapici confirmed that the incident was related to Kiraz's investigation into the boy's death.
The DHKP-C, which seeks a socialist state, is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
The group has carried out sporadic attacks, including a suicide bombing on the U.S. Embassy in 2013 that killed a security guard. The group was more active in the 1970s.