A group of Marxist terrorists took a Turkish government prosecutor hostage in an Istanbul courthouse Tuesday, objecting to the unsettled case of a dead teenage protester.
The group, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party–Front, is generally known by its Turkish acronym DHKP-C. It reportedly entered the courthouse at 12:30 p.m. local time and seized prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz. Photographs soon emerged online of Kiraz with tape on his mouth and a gun held to his head, which circulated alongside a list of the group’s demands.
Kiraz has spent the last two months assigned to the case of Berkin Elvan, a 15 year old who died in 2014 after a lengthy coma — the result of a tear gas canister striking his head. The incident came amid 2013’s nationwide Gezi Park protests against then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Elvan was the youngest person to die from Turkey’s police crackdown on protesters.
The officers responsible for Elvan’s death have not yet been charged with any crime. In their ultimatum, the DHKP-C ordered the officers to confess their crime on live television, according to Turkey’s Daily Sabah.
The hostage-takers gave three hours for the authorities to meet their demands, at which time they said they would kill Kiraz, the prosecutor. Turkish outlet Hürriyet reported that the police continued to negotiate with the terrorists past the deadline.
Turkish special forces have gathered outside the courthouse during the standoff.
The late teenager’s father, Sami Elvan, took to Twitter during the crisis, urging the agitators not to kill the prosecutor and writing that the family did not “want anyone to shed even a drop of blood,” in Reuters’ translation.
Turkey’s government, meanwhile, issued a ban on media reports about the incident.
The DHKP-C is recognized by both Turkey and the United States as a terrorist group. It has claimed responsibility for a 2013 suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara that killed a security guard. It also cited Elvan’s death as justification for a January 2015 bombing in a tourist-heavy part of Istanbul, though that attack was later linked to the Islamic State terror group, and the Communists retracted their claim.
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