ISTANBUL (AP) — Two people attacked Turkey’s most well-known courthouse before being shot dead Tuesday, and authorities alleged the assailants were part of an extremist organization that had been largely inactive in recent years.
Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said the man and woman tried to attack a security checkpoint at the Caglayan courthouse in Istanbul and six people were wounded, including three police officers. Turkish Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc later said one of the civilians, a woman, died.
Yerlikaya later said the attackers were alleged members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP/C, a far-left group that is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The Caglayan courthouse, also known as the Istanbul Justice Palace, is a huge and heavily guarded court complex in the Kagithane district. It was Europe’s largest courthouse when it opened in 2011.
Footage published by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency showed the assailants appearing to shoot at police before being gunned down in the building’s forecourt, while bystanders ran for cover.
Private news agency DHA reported that the elder sister of the female attacker appeared as a defendant at the courthouse half an hour after the attack. She faced charges of membership in a terrorist organization and possessing dangerous materials.
The justice minister said the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation. Tunc told journalists that the attackers had previously served jail terms for terror-related offenses.
A witness to Tuesday’s attack, Emre Ozyurt, said his “blood froze” as bystanders fled in fright.
The attack took place the day that Turkey commemorated the anniversary of an earthquake in the south that killed more than 53,000 people.
“The Republic of Turkey will continue to fight against all terrorist organizations and those who support them,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a commemoration ceremony in the city of Kahramanmaras. “I would like to pray for the soul of the injured person who lost their life.”
In March 2015, the DHKP/C group took a prosecutor hostage at the same courthouse, demanding details about the police killing of a teenager during anti-government protests the previous year. Two gunmen died as police stormed the building, and the prosecutor later died of his injuries.
The group also claimed responsibility for a February 2013 suicide bomb attack on the US Embassy in Ankara in which a Turkish security guard was killed and four other people wounded.