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US consulate in Turkey targeted as wave of attacks kills nine | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police forensic experts examine the scene after an attack on a police station in Istanbul, Turkey, on August 10, 2015. (Reuters/Huseyin Aldemir)

Police forensic experts examine the scene after an attack on a police station in Istanbul, Turkey, on August 10, 2015. (Reuters/Huseyin Aldemir)

Police forensic experts examine the scene after an attack on a police station in Istanbul, Turkey, on August 10, 2015. (Reuters/Huseyin Aldemir)

Istanbul and Diyarbakır, Reuters—Two women shot at the US consulate in Istanbul on Monday and at least eight people were killed in a wave of separate attacks on Turkish security forces, weeks after Ankara launched a crackdown on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Kurdish, and far-left militants.

The NATO member has been in a heightened state of alert since starting its “synchronized war on terror” last month, including airstrikes against ISIS fighters in Syria and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq. It has also rounded up hundreds of suspected militants at home.

Police armed with automatic rifles cordoned off streets around the US consulate in the Sarıyer district on the European side of Istanbul, following the gun attack there.

Ahmet Akçay, a local resident who witnessed the attack, told Reuters that one of the women fired four or five rounds, aiming at security officials and consulate officers.

“Police were shouting ‘drop your bag, drop your bag’. And the woman was saying: ‘I will not surrender’,” Akçay said.

“The police warned her again: ‘Drop your bag or we will have to shoot you’, and the woman said: ‘Shoot.'”

One of the two women was later captured wounded, the Istanbul governor’s office said.

The Doğan News Agency said the injured woman was aged 51 and had served prison time for being a suspected member of the far-leftist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army-Front (DHKP-C), which is virulently anti-American and is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and Turkey.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

“We are working with Turkish authorities to investigate the incident. The Consulate General remains closed to the public until further notice,” a consulate official said.

On the other side of Istanbul, a vehicle laden with explosives was used in an attack on a police station, injuring three police officers and seven civilians, police said.

One of the attackers was killed during the bombing, while two others and a police officer died in a subsequent firefight, the Istanbul governor’s office said. Broadcaster CNN Türk said the officer was a senior member of the bomb squad who had been sent to investigate the attack.

Shooting continued into Monday morning in the Sultanbeyli district on the Asian side of the Bosphorus waterway, which divides Istanbul, as police carried out raids.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either of the attacks, but US diplomatic missions and police stations have been targeted by far-left groups in Turkey in the past.

The DHKP-C, whose members are among those detained in recent weeks, claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at the US embassy in Ankara in 2013 which killed a Turkish security guard.

Violence in southeast

Turkey opened its airbases to the US-led coalition against ISIS last month after years of reluctance and carried out its own bombing raids, stepping up its role after a suspected ISIS suicide bomber killed 32 people in the town of Suruç near the Syrian border.

Casting the operations as a war on terrorist groups “without distinction,” it simultaneously launched airstrikes on PKK targets in Iraq and in southeastern Turkey, and has arrested more than 1,300 people suspected of links to Islamist, Kurdish, and far-leftist groups in recent weeks.

It has been a high-risk strategy for a country straddling Europe and the Middle East and which depends on tourism for around a tenth of its income, leaving it exposed to the threat of reprisals.

Violence between the security forces and suspected militants intensified in the mainly Kurdish southeast on Monday.

Four police officers were killed when their armored vehicle was hit by roadside explosives in the town of Silopi, the governor’s office in the province of Şırnak said.

A soldier was also killed when Kurdish militants opened fire on a military helicopter in a separate attack in Şırnak, the military said in a statement. Security sources said at least seven other soldiers were wounded in the attack, which came as the helicopter took off.

The military launched an air campaign against PKK camps in northern Iraq on July 24 after a resurgence of militant attacks. State-run Anadolu news agency said on Sunday that more than 260 militants had been killed, including senior PKK figures, and more than 400 wounded by August 1.

The violence has left a peace process with the PKK, begun by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2012, in tatters. Erdoğan said last month the process had become impossible, although neither side has so far declared the negotiations definitively over.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States, and the European Union, launched its insurgency in 1984 to press for greater Kurdish rights. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.