'Shootout in Istanbul an act of terror': Officials

Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay told reporters after his meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his office that he would immediately head to Istanbul.

'Shootout in Istanbul an act of terror': Officials
The chief judge in Istanbul has said that evidences in the shootout outside the U.S. consulate general in Istanbul pointed to an act of terror.

Aykut Cengiz Engin told reporters after examining the scene of the attack, "a vehicle carrying 4 people came to the scene at around 10:30 in the morning. Three of the assailants got out of the car and fired at police officer standing sentry in front of the U.S. consulate. An armed clash erupted as the police officer together with two others patrolling in the neighborhood responded the fire. Three assailants who got out of the car were killed. One policeman died in the scene while two others succumbed to their injuries in hospital."

"According to preliminary reports, assailants aged between 25-30 had guns and shotguns. They could not be identified yet. The fourth attacker managed to flee from the scene. On the other hand, modus operandi, nature and characteristics of the attack show that it was an act of terror," he said.

Three police officers and three attackers died in the shooting outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul. Two people including a policeman and a security vehicle driver were slightly wounded in the attack.

Minister on the scene

Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay told reporters after his meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his office that he would immediately head to Istanbul.

Atalay did not give any detailed information but said police were searching for a car that fled after the incident.

Enis Yilmaz, an eye-witness of the shootout near the police post at the visa entrance of the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, said, "a vehicle moved back and forth. Then I heard several gun shots. I saw that three people jumped out of the car. The other assailant fled with the car."

Speaking to reporters regarding the attack, Governor Muammer Guler said that police found guns and rifles at the scene of the attack.

Guler said that the attack was staged at the main entrance gate of the U.S. Consulate General, publicly known as the "visa gate."

The governor said that the traffic team at the entrance gate intervened when three people approached the checkpoint by a vehicle.

"Three police officers were killed, and one police officer and one traffic police officer were wounded and taken under treatment at the Istinye state hospital," the governor said.

Guler said that three assailants were killed in the scene of the attack.

The governor said that efforts were under way to identify the terrorists, learn about their motive and whether they were members of an illegal organization.

Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation into the attack.

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Last Mod: 10 Temmuz 2008, 11:38
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