On Monday, the U.S. consulate in Turkey was attacked by two female assailants, for reasons as yet unclear. One of the attackers has been taken into custody. Turkey is currently fighting both ISIS and a Kurdish separatist movement, the PKK or Kurdistan Workers Party, but according to reports from Turkish media this woman may represent yet another violent faction: a far-left anti-American terrorist organization called the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army Front or DHKP-C.
According to an eyewitness quoted by Reuters, one of the women produced a weapon – it sounds like she pulled a handgun out of her purse – and fired four or five shots at security officials and consular officers. When security forces ordered her to drop her bag, she responded, “I will not surrender,” and when the police made it clear they were prepared to use deadly force, she replied simply, “Shoot.”
It sounds as if the police did indeed open fire, because Reuters says one of the two women involved in the incident was wounded and taken into custody. The Wall Street Journal, however, cites a report from Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency saying that no one was killed or injured during the incident.
The potential link to the DHKP-C comes from the arrest record of the woman currently in custody. She is said to be 51 years of age, and served time for being a suspected member of the DKHP-C. Reuters notes that members of this organization have been detained during Turkey’s crackdown on terrorists, most prominently including ISIS and the PKK. The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army Front took responsibility for a suicide bombing at the U.S. embassy in Ankara in 2013. CNN reports the Turkish government claiming that raids against the DKHP-C have resulted in the seizure of “a long range weapon and a good amount of artillery” from the group.
Left-wing groups in Turkey have been vocally complaining about the detention of their members ever since Turkey’s anti-terrorist push began, complaining that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been using the push against ISIS as cover for oppressing other political opponents.
Monday has proven to be a bloody day in Istanbul, as a combined gun and bomb attack on a police station killed one and wounded ten, while return fire from the police is said to have killed two of the assailants.
The police officer who died is described as “a senior member of the bomb squad who had been sent to investigate the attack,” according to CNN Turk reporting relayed by Reuters. The attackers hit the police station with a vehicle-delivered explosive device first, waited a few hours for police to move into the streets and assess damage, then opened fire on them. It was not clear at the time of this writing if the police station attack was directly connected to the shooting at the U.S. consulate.
Reuters also reports that four Turkish police officers were killed by a roadside bomb in the southeastern Kurdish region of Turkey on Monday, while a helicopter in the same area was hit by gunfire while in the process of taking off, killing one Turkish soldier and wounding at least seven. These attacks are believed to be the work of the PKK.
The Wall Street Journal counts some 70 deaths among security officials and civilians from terrorist attacks by ISIS and the PKK over the past three weeks, while over 1,000 people linked to various organizations have been detained during the government’s anti-terrorist offensive.