Eight Soldiers Killed, Istanbul Palace Attacked In Turkey

At least eight soldiers have been killed, by a bomb in southeastern Turkey, while gunmen opened fired on police outside an Istanbul palace.

Gunmen fired on police outside an Istanbul palace and a bomb killed eight soldiers in the southeast on Wednesday, heightening a sense of crisis as Turkey’s leaders struggled 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.

Militants from the 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 US-led coalition against Islamic State, 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, possibly paving the way for another election 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 toward an election again,” President Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech.

The lira slid to a new low against the dollar as investors took fright at what some have dubbed a “perfect storm” of political uncertainty, slowing growth and deepening violence.

The currency has seen its steepest five-day decline this week since May 2010, making it one of the world’s worst-performing emerging markets currencies.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack at Dolmabahce palace, where the assailants opened fire on police guarding the entrance. The building has been targeted before by leftist militants.

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

In response to the PKK attack, a nationalist opposition party called for an extraordinary meeting of the National Security Council and the declaration of “martial law” measures in parts of the country in line with constitutional provisions.

“Security must be established with martial law measures in a section of the country, covering provinces and districts where there are scenes of violence and horror,” MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said in a written statement.

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

A fighter proclaiming allegiance to Islamic State appeared in a video this week urging Turks to rebel against “infidel” Erdogan and help conquer Istanbul.

The leftist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army-Front (DHKP-C) meanwhile claimed responsibility earlier this month for an attack on the US consulate in Istanbul, in which two women shot at the building. One of the attackers was hurt in an exchange of fire but there were no other casualties.



Categories: Europe, Turkey, World

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