Newspaper article International New York Times

Extremists Take Turkish Official Hostage ; Leftist Group Says It Seeks Justice after Teenager's Death in 2013 Protests

Newspaper article International New York Times

Extremists Take Turkish Official Hostage ; Leftist Group Says It Seeks Justice after Teenager's Death in 2013 Protests

Article excerpt

The militants are demanding justice in the death of a teenage boy after antigovernment protests nearly two years ago, according to a statement on a website affiliated with the group.

Members of a leftist terrorist group prominent during the Cold War managed to slip through tight security at Istanbul's main courthouse on Tuesday afternoon to take a well-known prosecutor hostage, the police said. Holding him at gunpoint, they threatened to kill him if their demands were not met.

Negotiations with the hostage takers went on through Tuesday afternoon, and special forces swarmed the building. Reuters reported that gunshots and explosions could be heard Tuesday evening, and that an ambulance raced to a rear door of the building.

The militants were demanding justice in the death of a teenage boy after antigovernment protests nearly two years ago, according to a statement on a website affiliated with the group.

"We are working to bring the incident to an end without anyone getting hurt," Selami Altinok, Istanbul's police chief, said in a statement carried on Turkish television. "Negotiators are talking to the captors, and we hope this incident will come to an end soon."

As the drama unfolded Tuesday afternoon, news channels shifted attention from what had dominated coverage all morning: a power failure across the country that shut down subways, trams and traffic lights in Istanbul. The blackout, which Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said could have been the work of terrorists, prompted speculation in the Turkish media that the assailants were able to enter the courthouse because the metal detectors were not working.

Later in the afternoon, as the lights were coming back on around the country, Turkish authorities imposed a ban on news reporting at the courthouse, leaving people to follow Twitter or other social media for updates.

The events evoked Turkey's old ghosts, and its fresher traumas. The Marxist group that took responsibility for infiltrating the courthouse, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, has its origins in Turkey's tumultuous 1970s, when political violence roiled the country and Turkey was a central arena for the intrigues of the Cold War. …

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