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Khashoggi killing: Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty for five suspects

Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of the suspects charged in the murder case of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. However, he denied Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's involvement. Saud al-Mojeb, the kingdom's top prosecutor, announced on Thursday that he was recommending the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects who have been charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. He did not name the suspects. In total, 21 people have been arrested in connection with the case. Crown Prince bin Salman exonerated Khashoggi, a regular contributor to US newspaper The Washington Post, was a staunch critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. His murder caused international outrage, and many believe it could not have been carried out without bin Salman's knowledge. The prosecutor, however, claimed the crown prince was not involved in the killing. He said the highest-ranking member of the Saudi leadership implicated in the operation was former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri, who has since been fired for ordering Khashoggi's forced return. A spokesman for the prosecution told reporters that plans to assassinate Khashoggi were set in motion on September 29. "The crime included a fight and injecting the citizen Khashoggi with a drug overdose that led to his death," the official said. The body was dismembered and handed over to a local collaborator, he added. He did not give any details on the location of the body. Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancée raised the alarm when he did not return. After weeks of denials and under growing international pressure, Riyadh finally admittedthat Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in a "rogue" operation. US issues sanctions On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the US was placing harsh economic sanctions on 17 Saudis for their alleged involvement in the Khashoggi murder. In a statement, Mnuchin said: "The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi. These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions." Three of the individuals targeted in Thursday's sanctions were Saud Al-Qahtani and Maher Mutreb, both of whom are top aides to Salman, and Mohammed Alotaibi, consul general at the Istanbul consulate at the time Khashoggi was murdered. The US treasury secretary said Qahtani "was part of the planning and execution of the operation" to kill Khashoggi. The secretary stopped short of accusing the crown prince of involvement. The sanctions fall under the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and were issued as part of the US Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Such sanctions freeze targets' assets if they fall under US jurisdiction. The sanctions also forbid Americans and US companies from conducting business with them. Mnuchin's statement also said: "The Government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists." Trouble with the Turks The case has caused a row between the kingdom and Turkey, whose government insists the suspects should be tried in Turkey. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the Saudi prosecutor's statement "positive but insufficient," insisting that Khashoggi's murder was "premeditated." Cavusoglu said the Thursday announcement by Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor fell short of his own country's expectations: "I want to say that we did not find some of his explanations to be satisfactory" and that "those who gave the order, the real perpetrators, need to be revealed. This process cannot be closed down in this way." Cavusoglu also questioned why Saudi Arabia had only indicted 11 of the 18 suspects detained. He pointed out that the Saudi prosecutor made no mention of where Khashoggi's remains were taken: "There is a question that has not been answered yet. Where is Khashoggi's body? Where was he disposed of, where was he buried, where was he burned? There is still not an answer on this issue."

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of the suspects charged in the murder case of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. However, he denied Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement. Saud al-Mojeb, the kingdom’s top prosecutor, announced on Thursday that he was recommending the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects who have been charged with ... Read More »

Warned against studying in Turkey, German exchange students share their stories

With German-Turkish relations at an all-time low, we meet four young German exchange students who chose to study at universities in Istanbul – despite warnings from family and friends. The current political tensions between Germany and Turkey are having an influence on social relations – including the student exchange program, Erasmus. German students going to Turkey with Erasmus have been affected, with some even changing their minds at the last minute and remaining in Germany. Others who decided to go ahead with their exchange were often met with dubious reactions. DW spoke with four students in Istanbul. Here are their stories. 'I was told I could end up in jail' Verena is 23 years old. In Germany, she studied social work and education at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. An Erasmus stay is an obligatory part of her studies. Verena has been studying abroad at Istanbul's Aydin University since September. Although her exchange semester is scheduled to end in January 2018, she would like to stay longer because she likes Istanbul so much. She has already submitted a request for an extension. "I don't like large crowds, but life in Istanbul is just wonderful," says Verena. Verena could have gone to the Netherlands, Spain or Switzerland, but she chose Turkey even though she had never been there before. The main reason was her curiosity about the country. But the reactions of her family and friends were not encouraging. "My friends who heard about my trip to Istanbul asked me: "Are you stupid? Don't you know how dangerous it is there? You could end up in jail.” Even at Frankfurt airport, one of the ground staff said to me, "Don't be stupid – don't go to Turkey." But these reactions made her even more curious. A former Erasmus student, who had already been to Istanbul, told her that the city is very beautiful and that she should definitely go. 'Distancing yourself from a country is not a solution' Malte is also spending his exchange semester in Istanbul, in his case at Bogazici University. In Germany, the 25-year-old studied economics at Berlin's Humboldt University. He regrets that he can only stay in Istanbul for one semester. For Malte, it is an exciting and interesting city, and that is why he came. He likes the liberal atmosphere at Bogazici. When he received his confirmation of the exchange to Turkey last year, he said he had concerns about going to Istanbul. He said his family in particular had been very worried about him, but finally had to accept his decision. "Clearly, it is not very reassuring to see that journalists are being arrested here, but distancing yourself from a country and isolating it is also not a solution." 'The crisis between the two countries won't get any bigger' Pascal, who is 23, has come to Istanbul's Bilgi University from Heidelberg for a semester. He studies political and economic sciences. The German media reports about Turkey were not enough for him to understand what has really happened in the country. He came to Istanbul so that he could form an idea of the country for himself. However, his family, especially his father, was very worried. "My father kept telling me, "Don't trust anyone!" He was imagining there would be policemen everywhere in Turkey, and it would be like it was in former communist countries." Istanbul has exceeded his expectations, he says. He thought that he would find a city full of depressed people. His fellow students at the university have no political concerns. On the issue of German-Turkish relations, he says: "Turkey has the means to get out of this crisis. But this crisis is not going to get any bigger, because both countries are dependent on each other." 'I don't get bored here' Dominique is 24, and like Verena, she came to Istanbul's Aydin University from Frankfurt as an Erasmus student. Turkey was not her first choice, she admits. In retrospect, however, she is very happy to be here. She says she loves the vibrancy of the city and never gets bored. Unlike other German students, her parents had different concerns about her destination. "My parents were afraid of earthquakes," she says. As a German studying in Turkey, she says she has had no problems in Istanbul, although not everyone she's met are fans of Germany. "We once went to an island by ferry. The captain invited us for tea and then asked where we were from. When we said we were Germans, he pulled a long face, but was still friendly."

With German-Turkish relations at an all-time low, we meet four young German exchange students who chose to study at universities in Istanbul – despite warnings from family and friends. The current political tensions between Germany and Turkey are having an influence on social relations – including the student exchange program, Erasmus. German students going to Turkey with Erasmus have been ... Read More »

Turkey ‘seeking arrest of second US consulate worker’

Turkish media say authorities are questioning the wife and son of a US consulate worker being sought in Istanbul by police. Ankara has also reportedly summoned a US diplomat of its NATO ally in a row over visa services. Turkey issued an arrest warrant for another US consulate worker, Turkish broadcaster NTV reported Monday. The family members of the worker were being questioned although Turkey's justice ministry said it had no information about a new warrant being issued. NTV said the consulate official was still being sought by security officials. The reports follow the arrest in Istanbul last week of a local US consulate employee, a Turkish national identified as Metin Topuz. The detention triggered a diplomatic row as US and Turkish missions each cut back visa services. Read more: US halts visa services to Turkey Turkish foreign ministry sources said the US mission's second-in-charge, Philip Kosnett, had been summoned to the ministry. Turkey demands US rethink Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul told A Haber television on Monday that he hoped Washington would review its decision to suspend visa services to Turkish citizens wanting to visit and study in the United States. Gul said the case against Topuz was one for the Turkish judiciary to pursue. "Trying a Turkish citizen for a crime committed in Turkey is our right. I hope the US will revise its decision in this light,” Gul said. Turkey's Anadolu news agency said Topuz was accused of espionage and links to the US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen. Ankara accused Gulen of being behind a coup attempt in 2016. The US embassy said it was "deeply disturbed” by his arrest.

Turkish media say authorities are questioning the wife and son of a US consulate worker being sought in Istanbul by police. Ankara has also reportedly summoned a US diplomat of its NATO ally in a row over visa services. Turkey issued an arrest warrant for another US consulate worker, Turkish broadcaster NTV reported Monday. The family members of the worker ... Read More »

At least 39 people killed in Istanbul nightclub attack

Turkey's interior ministry has said that 39 people are dead and 69 are in hospital following a nightclub terrorist attack just after Turkey welcomed 2017. The attack took place in a popular club in the Ortakoy district. Turkey's interior ministry raised the death toll early Sunday morning to at least 39, with 69 people receiving treatment in local hospitals, after an armed attack on the Reina nightclub in the Ortakoy district of Istanbul. The attack occurred less than one hour after Turkey rang in the new year. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in televised remarks the attacker was still at large: "The search for the terrorist continues... I hope [the assailant] will be captured quickly, God willing." The revised numbers of dead and injured came several hours after an earlier announcement from Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin immediately following the attack, in which he stated that least 35 people had been killed. "Unfortunately, at least 35 of our citizens lost their lives. One was a police officer. Forty people are receiving treatment in hospitals," Sahin told reporters at the nightclub. Sahin described the incident as a terror attack, adding, "a terrorist with a long-range weapon...brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun." Sahin did not say what group might have been involved. There were hundreds of people celebrating the new year in the nightclub when the attack occurred. One witness told the Associated Press she saw bodies in the nightclub following the attack. "Before I could understand what was happening, my husband fell on top me," said the witness outside Istanbul's Sisli hospital. "I had to lift several bodies from on top of me before I could get out." The witness' husband was not in serious condition. Broadcaster CNN Türk and German press agency dpa said the attack was carried out by at least two attackers who were wearing Santa Claus outfits who opened fire with automatic weapons. Early reports indicated that one attacker may have remained in the building following the attacks. Turkish special forces were searching the building in order to catch the attacker, according to Turkish broadcaster NTV. Local reports showed ambulances and police vehicles on the street outside the club. The Reina nightclub stands near the Ataturk bridge on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait that splits Istanbul in two. Some celebrating New Year's at the nightclub jumped into the frigid water to avoid the attack. Rescue crews were immediately dispatched to rescue those who jumped into the strait. Turkish authorities imposed a temporary blackout on coverage of the attack, which prevents media organizations from broadcasting or publishing anything that includes the "moment of attack; aftermath of the attack and site of the crime; public servants conducting their jobs; injured and dead." Security was high in Istanbul following a year filled with violent attacks by the so-called Islamic State (IS) or Kurdish groups that killed more than 180 people. At least 17,000 police officers were on duty for New Year's celebrations in Turkey's largest city, some under cover as street vendors or Santa Claus. Turkish Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag tweeted "this is a cowardly and cruel terrorist attack against our Turkey, our peace, our unity, our brotherhood and all of us." United States President Barack Obama was briefed on the attack and offered US help to Turkish authorities, according to the White House. "The president expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost, directed his team to offer appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities, as necessary, and keep him updated as warranted," said White House spokesman Eric Schultz in a statement. The White House also called the incident a terror attack and condemned it "in the strongest terms," according to National Security Council spokesman Ned Price in a statement. The US and Turkey are members of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted "my thoughts are with those affected by the attack on people celebrating New Year and with the Turkish people." The German foreign office offered its condolences. Facebook has activated a safety check following the attack. The nightclub's website is currently down. More to follow...

Turkey’s interior ministry has said that 39 people are dead and 69 are in hospital following a nightclub terrorist attack just after Turkey welcomed 2017. The attack took place in a popular club in the Ortakoy district. Turkey’s interior ministry raised the death toll early Sunday morning to at least 39, with 69 people receiving treatment in local hospitals, after ... Read More »

Millions gather in Istanbul for raucous democracy rally

More than 2 million people have gathered in Turkey for a "democracy and martyrs" rally to condemn the failed coup attempt on July 15. DW's Tom Stevenson reports from Istanbul. Sunday's rally in Istanbul's Yenikapi park was but the latest in a string of public events promoted by the Turkish government following a failed coup attempt on July 15. By its sheer size, it was a demonstration unlike any other in Turkey's recent history. People traveled by bus or train from across the city and beyond, creating a sea of people, banners and posters. Some estimates put the number of rallygoers at 3 million or more. When the ample area of Yenikapi park was full, and closed by the police for fear of overcrowding, undeterred throngs massed at the gates and around the park. The people gathered were not only there to support the government in the wake of the military coup. They also protested the widely reviled Turkish preacher Fetullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999 and has been locked in a feud with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for the past three years. The president has blamed Gulen's followers for launching the coup. "I express my gratitude to our people who laid down their lives to stop helicopters and guns," Erdogan told the rally on Sunday. "They have written their names in gold into our history." The president also pledged to push for the reintroduction of the death penalty in response to what he said were popular calls for its return. Those in attendance ranged from the staunchly religious to the staunchly secular, from supporters of the government to supporters of the opposition. "The Turkish people have rejected this sect, and we are here to show that we are Muslims and we will not accept military rule in Turkey," said Mehmet Cagi, a 23-year-old from a local Salafi religious group. In addition to the thousands of Turkish flags were the standards of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Azerbaijan and Libya, along with Uighur and Syrian opposition flags. Even a flag from Somaliland, a substate territory seeking independence from Somalia, was visible. "It's great to be here," said Muhumed Mohamed, the bearer of the flag of Somaliland, and one of four students from the territory attending the rally while studying in Turkey. "We are here to support democracy." "You know, some values in this world are universal, and democracy has to be the first one," Mohamed said. The mood turned celebratory after a minute's silence had been observed for the more than 250 civilians and loyalist forces killed in last month's coup attempt. Breaking with tradition, the opposition leaders Kemal Kilicdaroglu, of the Republican People's Party, and Devlet Bahceli, of the Nationalist Movement Party, attended the rally and even spoke alongside Erdogan and Binali Yildirim, the leader of the ruling AKP. Army chief of staff General Hulusi Akar, who was kidnapped during the coup, also addressed the rally in an unplanned speech. The crowd appeared to be constituted by a solid pro-government, religious majority, and the loudest chants entering the rally were religious calls and response and the declaration of faith, the Shahada, in Arabic with a clear Turkish accent. But Turks from all walks of life attended. Conspicuously absent were representatives of the pro-Kurd Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which, despite opposing the coup attempt, has been excluded from recent anti-coup rallies and was refused an invitation by the ruling AKP. The government has been locked in military campaigns in the Kurdish southeast of Turkey for the past year. "The exclusion of HDP is a very bad, very regrettable decision, and it is a waste," said Hisyar Ozsoy, the party's vice chairman. "The government could have used this opportunity to restart the peace process with the Kurdish movement." "It's clear that they are trying to build a nationalist alliance, and in doing so they are following the logic of the coup plotters," Ozsoy said. "This attitude is the root of nearly every problem in Turkey." Sentiments expressed were not purely position. One man carried an effigy of a lynched man with the words "death to FETÖ," a Turkish acronym meaning "Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation." Some in attendance freely expressed their frustrations with the perceived lackluster support for Turkey's government following the coup from the international community and Europe in particular. "Outside, in Europe, everyone thinks of terrorists when they think of Turkey, but this is the real Turkey," said 36-year-old Safar Engin. "We've been trying to get into Europe for 30 years and been denied, but then there is a coup and where is Europe?" Engin said. "Nowhere. No, we are the ones standing for democracy."

More than 2 million people have gathered in Turkey for a “democracy and martyrs” rally to condemn the failed coup attempt on July 15. DW’s Tom Stevenson reports from Istanbul. Sunday’s rally in Istanbul’s Yenikapi park was but the latest in a string of public events promoted by the Turkish government following a failed coup attempt on July 15. By ... Read More »

Crowds gather in Istanbul for massive pro-Erdogan rally

The Turkish president has called on participants to bring the national flag to show support for a "single motherland." The rally is expected to cap nightly pro-democracy demonstrations in the wake of a failed coup. Crowds on Sunday gathered in Istanbul's Yenikapi parade ground for a massive rally that caps nightly demonstrations aimed at showing solidarity with the country's democracy in the wake of a failed coup. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is expected to be in attendance, urged participants of the "Democracy and Marty's Rally" to bring the Turkish flag instead of party banners. "There we will stand together as a single nation, a single flag, a single motherland, a single state, a single spirit," he said. Flyers were distributed overnight, offering free public transport to the event. "The triumph is democracy's, the squares are the people's," the flyer said. Two of Turkey's three opposition parties were expected to have representatives in attendance. The pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP) was, however, not invited. CHP opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said the rally would display massive support for ending the legacy of military coups in the Anatolian country. "The only way to eliminate coups is to revive the founding values of the republic. These values that make our unity should be spoken out loud at Yenikapi," said Kilicdaroglu in a tweet ahead of the rally. Nearly 15,000 police were deployed to secure the event, which the state-run Anadolu news agency estimates could be attended by millions. More than 270 people were killed on July 15, when a group in the Turkish armed forces attempted to overthrow Erdogan. The government responded to the failed coup by suspending, detaining or placing under investigation tens of thousands of people. Deeply concerned' Erdogan has come under increased criticism following a mass purge that witnessed some 60,000 government workers suspended or fired in the wake of the failed coup, while thousands of military personnel and dozens of journalists have been detained. Germany's Die Linke (The Left) party Chairman Bern Riexinger on Sunday told the Funke media group that Ankara had no place in the European Union, accusing Erdogan of orchestrating the coup to consolidate power. "A government that hunts journalists, redefines justice, throws opposition into prisons and wages war against its own people cannot be included in the EU," said Riexinger. Christian Lindner, who leads Germany's liberal Free Democrats (FDP), made similar comments to the German daily "Bild." "We are experiencing a coup d'etat from above like in 1933 after the Reichstag fire. He is building an authoritarian regime tailored solely to himself," Lindner said, referring to the event cited by scholars as a pivotal moment for Adolf Hitler's consolidation of power. "Because the rights and freedoms of the individual no longer play a role, he cannot be a partner for Europe," he added. The US State Department in July said it was "deeply concerned" by the mass arrests, especially of journalists and activists. "We would see this … as a troubling trend in Turkey where official bodies, law enforcement and judicial, are being used to discourage legitimate political discourse," said State Department spokesman John Kirby.

The Turkish president has called on participants to bring the national flag to show support for a “single motherland.” The rally is expected to cap nightly pro-democracy demonstrations in the wake of a failed coup. Crowds on Sunday gathered in Istanbul’s Yenikapi parade ground for a massive rally that caps nightly demonstrations aimed at showing solidarity with the country’s democracy ... Read More »

Airstrikes kill IS fighters fleeing Fallujah

Video of the attack shows an airstrike against an apparent IS convoy leaving Fallujah. It's the latest blow to the jihadi group, but it retains the ability to strike abroad with deadly suicide bombers. Airstrikes south the Iraqi city of Fallujah on Wednesday may have killed up to hundreds of "Islamic State" (IS) fighters. US officials estimate that at least 250 IS fighters were killed and at least 40 vehicles destroyed. The estimate is preliminary, but if confirmed it would amount to one of the deadliest attacks against the jihadi group. US media reported that American airstrikes were responsible for the attack, while the BBC said the Iraqi air force bombed the IS fighters. The attack is the latest military set back for IS inside their self-proclaimed "caliphate," which spans parts of Iraq and Syria. But territorial loses haven't diminished the group's ability to strike abroad. Battle against IS will be long Wednesday night's terror attack in Istanbul, which killed more than 40 people and injured nearly 250 more, is being blamed on IS. Although the militant group has not claimed responsibility for the attack, both Ankara and Washington have said the attacks bears the hallmarks of an IS operation. In Washington, CIA chief John Brennan said the battle to defeat IS remains far from over, despite recent gains in the battlefield. That includes US-backed Iraqi forces liberating the strategic city of Fallujah last week. "We've made, I think, some significant progress, along with our coalition partners, in Syria and Iraq, where most of the ISIS members are resident right now," Brennan said, referring to the militant group by an alternate acronym. "But ISIS' ability to continue to propagate its narrative, as well as to incite and carry out these attacks - I think we still have a ways to go before we're able to say that we have made some significant progress against them." Another US-backed alliance of militias in Syria have launched a major offensive against IS in a bid to take back the city of Manbij in northern Syria. But overall it remains a back-and-forth conflict. US-backed Syrian rebels were reportedly pushed back from the outskirts of an Islamic State-held town on the border with Iraq on Wednesday when jihadists mounted a counter-attack.

Video of the attack shows an airstrike against an apparent IS convoy leaving Fallujah. It’s the latest blow to the jihadi group, but it retains the ability to strike abroad with deadly suicide bombers. Airstrikes south the Iraqi city of Fallujah on Wednesday may have killed up to hundreds of “Islamic State” (IS) fighters. US officials estimate that at least ... Read More »

Erdogan: Airport attackers will ‘end up in hell’

Turkey's president declared that those responsible for a deadly attack on Istanbul's airport "are not Muslims." Recep Tayyip Erdogan has named the so-called 'Islamic State' group the prime suspect. Although no group has officially claimed responsibility for the attack on Istanbul's main Ataturk Airport that killed 42 people late on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has laid the blame on so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists. Speaking at a Ramadan fast-breaking feast in Ankara on Wednesday evening, Erdogan promised that Turkey would overcome the violence presented not only by IS, but by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and associated groups, who have recently reentered into armed conflict with the Turkish government. "They are not Muslims. They will end up in hell. That's where they will go. They have prepared their place in hell," Erdogan told the audience to the sounds of applause. "Neither the PKK), the YPG (People's Protection Units), Daesh or the DHKP-C (Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front), nor the parallel gang of treachery will succeed in deterring Turkey from achieving its goals," referring to IS by its Arabic acronym, Daesh. Media reports suggested that three assailants stepped out of a taxi in front of the terminal and almost immediately started to unload their firearms. The trio then blew themselves up at different parts of the terminal: one by a security checkpoint, another directly outside the entrance and a third in the parking garage. The massacre left 41 dead and wounded 239. In the wake of the attack, Erdogan declared Wednesday a national day of mourning. CIA director: Attack bears the hallmark of IS Both Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and the US CIA director John Brennan have echoed Erdogan’s statements that the attack is likely the work of IS jihadis. "The attack bears the hallmarks of the Islamic State's depravity," said Brennan on Wednesday, while Yildirim told a press conference: "Our thoughts on those responsible for the attack lean towards Islamic State." Analysts have said that the likely goal of this IS attack, in line with several other recent bombings in Turkey's biggest city, is to target tourism to the country - a significant portion of the nation's income.

Turkey’s president declared that those responsible for a deadly attack on Istanbul’s airport “are not Muslims.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan has named the so-called ‘Islamic State’ group the prime suspect. Although no group has officially claimed responsibility for the attack on Istanbul’s main Ataturk Airport that killed 42 people late on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has laid the blame on ... Read More »

Terrorism in Turkey: threat from two sides

استنبول میں ترکی کے سب سے بڑے ہوائی اڈے پر منگل کی رات تین خود کش حملہ آوروں کی طرف سے کیے گئے دہشت گردانہ حملے میں ہلاک ہونے والوں کی تعداد بڑھ کر اکتالیس ہو گئی ہے، جن میں کم از کم تیرہ غیر ملکی بھی شامل ہیں۔ اس حملے میں تین مسلح حملہ آوروں نے منگل اٹھائیس جون کو مقامی وقت کے مطابق رات دس بجے سے کچھ دیر قبل شہر کے اتاترک ایئر پورٹ پر خود کو بم دھماکوں سے اڑا دیا تھا۔ اس سے قبل ایک حملہ آور نے ہوائی اڈے کے ایک لاؤنج میں اندھا دھند فائرنگ بھی شروع کر دی تھی۔ پھر جب اس کے باقی دو ساتھیوں نے ایک سکیورٹی چیک پوسٹ کو زبردستی پار کرنے کی کوشش کی تو موقع پر موجود اہلکاروں کی طرف سے ان پر فائرنگ بھی کی گئی تھی۔ لیکن اس سے قبل کہ ان حملہ آوروں کو ہلاک کر دیا جاتا یا انہیں گرفتار کر لیا جاتا، انہوں نے خود کو دھماکوں سے اڑا دیا تھا۔ استنبول کا اتاترک ایئر پورٹ نہ صرف ترکی کا سب سے بڑا ہوائی اڈہ ہے بلکہ وہ یورپ کا تیسرا مصروف ترین ایئر پورٹ بھی ہے۔ آج بدھ انتیس جون کی صبح تک ملنے والی رپورٹوں میں اس تہرے خود کش حملے کے باعث ہلاک ہونے والوں کی تعداد 36 اور زخمیوں کی تعداد ڈیڑھ سو کے قریب بتائی گئی تھی۔ تاہم استنبول سے بدھ کی سہ پہر ملنے والی رپورٹوں میں بتایا گیا کہ اس خونریز حملے میں ہلاکتوں کی تعداد بڑھ کر اب 41 ہو گئی ہے، جن میں سے کم از کم 13 غیر ملکی تھے۔ اس کے علاوہ کئی لاپتہ افراد کی بھی اب تک کوئی خبر نہیں جبکہ زخمیوں کی مجموعی تعداد اب 239 بتائی جا رہی ہے۔ استنبول کے گورنر کے دفتر کے جاری کردہ اعداد و شمار کے مطابق مرنے والوں کی اس تعداد میں خود کش حملہ آوروں کو شمار نہیں کیا گیا۔ ’’اگر انہیں بھی شمار کیا جائے تو ہلاک شدگان کی تعداد 44 بنتی ہے۔‘‘ نیوز ایجنسی ایسوسی ایٹڈ پریس کی رپورٹوں کے مطابق اس حملے کا مقصد بظاہر ترکی میں سیاحت کی اس صنعت کو نشانہ بنانا تھا، جو انقرہ حکومت کے لیے سالانہ بنیادوں پر غیر ملکی زر مبادلہ کی کمائی کا ایک انتہائی اہم ذریعہ ہے۔ ترک حکام نے آج ہی یہ بھی بتایا کہ حملہ آور ایک ٹیکسی کے ذریعے اتاترک ایئر پورٹ پہنچے تھے اور یہ بات ابھی تک واضح نہیں کہ آیا حملہ آوروں کے ساتھ ان کے کوئی ایسی ساتھی بھی تھے، جو ابھی تک پکڑے نہیں جا سکے۔ اس حملے کے فوری بعد اتاترک ایئر پورٹ کو ہر قسم کی فضائی ٹریفک کے لیے بند کر دیا گیا تھا تاہم اس حملے کے قریب بارہ گھنٹے بعد اسے آج بدھ کی صبح معمول کی مسافر پروازوں کے لیے دوبارہ کھول دیا گیا۔ ترک وزیر اعظم بن علی یلدرم کے مطابق بظاہر یہ حملہ دہشت گرد تنظیم ’اسلامک اسٹیٹ‘ یا داعش کی کارروائی ہے، جو پہلے بھی ترکی میں کئی حملے کر چکی ہے اور ماضی میں ترک حکومت کو بار بار انتقامی حملوں کی دھمکیاں بھی دے چکی ہے۔ نیوز ایجنسی اے ایف پی نے لکھا ہے کہ استنبول ایئر پورٹ پر خود کش حملے میں اب تک جن ہلاک شدگان کی باقاعدہ شناخت ہو چکی ہے، ان میں سے 23 ترک شہری تھے اور کم از کم 13 غیر ملکی۔ مرنے والے غیر ملکیوں میں سے پانچ کا تعلق سعودی عرب سے اور دو کا عراق سے تھا۔ اس کے علاوہ اسی حملے میں تیونس، ازبکستان، چین، ایران، یوکرائن اور اردن کے ایک ایک شہری کی ہلاکت کی بھی تصدیق ہو گئی ہے۔

The bombing at Ataturk Airport is the most recent attack in a long line of lethal assaults Turkey has seen over the past year. The country is struggling to defend itself against Kurdish militants and Islamist terrorists. Turkey is still in shock after three suicide bombers killed at least 41 people and injured 239 more at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport ... Read More »

Blast targets Turkish police vehicle near bus stop in central Istanbul

A suspected bomb blast has hit a police vehicle near a bus stop in central Istanbul. Casualties were reported. A suspected bomb blast has hit a police vehicle near a bus stop in central Istanbul. A remote-controlled bomb exploded as a service shuttle carrying police officers was passing in the Beyazit district, state-run TRT television reported. The explosion wounded at least five people, the private Dogan News Agency reported. The state-run Anadolu Agency said several ambulances were sent to the scene. Pictures showed shops with their front windows smashed out by the force of the blast. Reports said the explosion took place close to the Vezeciler metro station, which is within walking distance of some of the main sights of the historical center, including the Suleymaniye Mosque. No group claimed responsiblity, but the attack beared all the marks of Kurdish militants. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) regularly carries out attacks on security targets. The group has expanded attacks on security forces in urban areas in response to Turkish military operations in several towns in the Kurdish populated southeast, which have displaced tens of thousands of civilians and leveled large sections of cities. Since the collapse of peace talks between the government and PKK last year several hundred people on both sides of the conflict have been killed. DHKP-C, a far-left group, also carries out periodic attacks on state targets. Turkey has also been hit by blowback from Syria. The "Islamic State" has carried out a number of attacks over the past year, leaving scores dead.

A suspected bomb blast has hit a police vehicle near a bus stop in central Istanbul. Casualties were reported. A suspected bomb blast has hit a police vehicle near a bus stop in central Istanbul. A remote-controlled bomb exploded as a service shuttle carrying police officers was passing in the Beyazit district, state-run TRT television reported. The explosion wounded at ... Read More »

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