World Bulletin / News Desk
The Istanbul Police Department has released a composite sketch of a suspect who attacked four elderly Armenian women in Istanbul, killing two of his victims.
In the past month, four elderly Armenian women were attacked in Istanbul's Samatya and Feriköy neighborhoods. A special team of investigators are working to capture the assailant, two of whose attacks resulted in the deaths of the victims. The other victims were seriously injured. The police department was criticized for treating what rights groups and Samatya residents say are racially motivated attacks as simple robbery cases. However, the police department says both Public Safety and Counterterrorism and Intelligence units are investigating the attacks and has also set up a special team of investigators. The composite sketch of the assailant was drawn based on testimony from witnesses in Samatya and the two survivors of the attacks. The man is described as being 1.70 meters tall with blue or green eyes. The sketch has been distributed at all police stations across Istanbul.
The first attack in the past few months was on Nov. 1 of last year. A woman named Gönül A. was beaten by an intruder, and her valuables were stolen. On Nov. 28, Tuivat A. (87) was attacked inside her house. She lost one eye in the attack and her valuables were also taken. On Dec. 28, Maritsa Küçük (85) was brutally murdered in her house, where she lived alone. In the fourth attack, Sultan Aykar (80) was stabbed as she entered her house.
Minority and rights groups have raised suspicions that the recent attacks indicate that illegal networks, most of whose members are in jail standing trial for plotting to stage coups d'état and related charges, are still active with their extensions operating. Evidence which emerged during several coup-attempt-related cases indicates that the coup plotters had targeted non-Muslims -- in particular missionaries -- and devised various plots to assassinate non-Muslim community leaders. The 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the massacre of missionaries in Malatya during the same year and the shooting of a Catholic priest in Trabzon in 2006 are believed to be connected to the same network.