Thousands mourn Izmir attack policeman who thwarted 'massive massacre'
A slain police officer hailed by Turkey's prime minister for thwarting a "massive massacre" after a car bomb exploded in Izmir has been laid to rest.
Fethi Sekin was killed outside the courthouse along with a court worker named as Musa Can in the Aegean city on Thursday after militants detonated a car laden with explosives and engaged in a gun battle with police.
The two dead were remembered in a ceremony on Friday at the scene of the attack attended by thousands including Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag.
Officials praised traffic policeman Sekin for preventing a greater tragedy after he stopped the car and chased down the two assailants before the explosion and the subsequent gunfight.
The attackers, believed by Turkish authorities to be Kurdish militants, were killed during clashes. A third is believed to be on the run.
Nine people were also wounded.
"He prevented a greater disaster by ignoring his own life and by giving his life. He showed great heroism neutralising those committing these cowardly plans," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said late on Thursday.
"In our Izmir, he saved many innocent fellow townsmen from a major disaster."
The two men's coffins were draped in the red and white Turkish flag and carried in a hall watched by hundreds of mourners including court workers and members of the ruling party.
Sekin was given the rare honour of a funeral ceremony in Izmir's famous Konak Square.
"This attack was not only against the judges, prosecutors, court officials working at the courthouse, the police protecting them, this attack was against Turkey, the Turkish nation's unity, its fraternity," Bozdag told the crowd.
Bozdag vowed the attack would never damage Turkey's fight against terror less than a week after a gunman stormed an Istanbul elite Reina nightclub during New Year's celebrations, killing 39 people.
Eighteen people have been detained in connection with the Izmir blast and the identity of the "terrorists" established, whom Bozdag said had planned to wreak havoc inside the court.
Police seized two Kalashnikovs, seven rockets and eight grenades suggesting a far more bloody attack was planned, according to press reports.
Bozdag blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) for the attack, saying the group "gave instructions" for the attack.
The PKK is designated a terror organisation by Ankara, the United States and European Union and has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.