Turkish police have killed two female terrorists after the pair attempted an attack on the headquarters of Istanbul’s riot police, using firearms and grenades, and locked themselves in a nearby apartment. Police have identified the women as members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army-Front (DHKP-C), a Marxist-Leninist terror organization.
The women reportedly attacked the riot police offices shortly after 9:00 a.m. local time, first attacking a police bus in the area and then shooting at the police station. According to Hurriyet, the women “arrived at the scene in a taxi” and began to shoot at the station, before running away once they had attracted police attention. Police chased them through narrow alleyways until the women entered a building and locked themselves in an apartment, where police were forced to kill them.
Two police officers were injured in the gunfight before the women fled, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency reported. Citing Governor Vasip Sahin, Anadolu confirms the women were members of DHKP-C and identifies them as Çiğdem Yakşi and Berna Yılmaz, both 27. Yeni Safak, a newspaper associated with the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reports that the women are believed to have locked themselves in the apartment in question for over an hour, leaving police no choice but to raid the scene.
The terrorist group has also issued a statement confirming the women as members, praising “our two women combatants for liberation that have taken the struggle upon their shoulders.”
Video surfacing of the event shows part of the shootout between police and the women:
The DHKP-C is an avowed communist organization that has staged a string of violent attacks since being founded in the 1990s. Daily Sabah notes that some form of the group has existed since the 1970s, but the DHKP-C proper is an offshoot of a bigger terrorist organization that has since splintered. Among its most successful operations was the murder of Ozdemir Sabanci, an industrial businessman, in 1996. More recently, the group abducted and assassinated prominent prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz in March 2015 after a standoff that produced dramatic images for social media that DHKP-C attempted to use as propaganda. The image of Kiraz surrounded by hammers and sickles with a gun to his head was banned from Turkish media:
Shortly before that attack, a female DHKP-C member set off a bomb in Istanbul’s tourist enclave Sultanahmet district, killing one police officer. The group praised the woman in a statement as “our sacrificial fighter,” alleging the bombing was revenge against President Erdogan for alleged corruption within his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The DHKP-C was blamed for one more attack for which it never took credit: the bombing of the pro-Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) magazine Adımlar’s headquarters. While the publishers of the magazine themselves blamed “the CIA or the Mossad,” police investigated DHKP-C suspects and speculated that the “People’s Defense Unit” that ultimately took credit for the attack could have had links to the Marxist group.
Turkey has been attempting to curb an escalation of violence in the past two years stemming from multiple militant threats, from the Islamic State – heavily active across the border in Syria – to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), another Marxist group. While Erdogan’s government has been attacking PKK targets in the south of the country for much of this year, the victims of terrorist bombings have largely been Kurds themselves. The deadliest attack in post-Ottoman Turkish history – the bombing of Ankara in October 2015 – targeted a Kurdish anti-Islamic State rally and was believed to be the work of ISIS terrorists.