Two arrested after shots fired outside Istanbul palace

Two arrested after shots fired outside Istanbul palace
Turkish police arrest two after shots are fired outside Dolmabache Palace, meanwhile eight soldiers are killed by a roadside bomb detonated by Kurdish rebels and Erdogan says early elections likely.
3 min read
19 August, 2015
Dolmabahce palace is one of Turkey's main tourist attractions [Getty]

Turkish police arrested two people Wednesday after shots were fired at officers guarding Istanbul's Dolmabache Palace, an Ottoman-era palace that is a major tourist attraction, Turkey's state-run news agency said. One police officer was slightly injured, the agency said.

Dolmabahce - one of the last great palaces of the Ottoman Empire and also where the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, died in 1938 - is one of Istanbul's major tourist attractions.

Part of the palace is open to the public but another wing hosts reception rooms and offices of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Police apprehended two armed people near the palace, where the prime minister also has an office, the Anadolu Agency reported. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in Ankara at the time of the attack.

Video footage released by the private Dogan news agency showed that a road leading to the palace had been sealed off by police. Police in Istanbul had no immediate comment on the report.

PKK bombing

Later Wednesday, at least eight Turkish soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb detonated by Kurdish rebels, the agency said.

The attack is the single most deadly strike to be blamed on the PKK since the government began waging a major "anti-terror" campaign against the Kurdish militants last month.

The soldiers were killed when a remote-controlled explosive device laid by militants on a road in the Silvan district of the province of Siirt was detonated, the official Anatolia news agency said.

The army confirmed the toll in a statement, blaming the "Separatist Terror Organisation", its customary phrase for the PKK which it never refers to by name.

Seven soldiers were also wounded in the attack and military helicopters and ambulances were dispatched to the area, Anatolia said, adding that the clashes between the militants and soldiers were continuing.

The attacks come amid escalating violence between Turkey's security forces and Kurdish rebels and as Turkey has been conducting operations against the Islamic State group and others. Turkey last month rounded up more than 1,000 people linked to IS, the Kurdish rebels and leftist militants.

At least 85 people, most of them police and soldiers, have been killed since July in the renewed violence between the security forces and the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

An IS propaganda video released this week called Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a traitor for allowing the US to use air bases for strikes against the group, and urged all Muslims in Turkey to join the IS in its fight against "crusaders, atheists and tyrants."

Turkey 'swiftly' heading towards snap polls

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey was "swiftly" heading towards early elections, after efforts to form a coalition government failed.

"We are once again swiftly heading towards an election," Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara on Wednesday, adding that the only solution in the current political impasse was turning to the "will of the nation".

Erdogan's comments came a day after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu informed the president he had failed to form a coalition government.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its overall majority in the June 7 polls for the first time since it came to power 2002, forcing it to seek a coalition partner.

Under the constitution, the president should now be obliged to give a mandate to form a coalition government to the opposition Republican People's Party CHP party, which came second in the election.

But Erdogan on Wednesday hinted that he would not do so.

"I have no time to lose with those who do not know the address of Bestepe", where his controversial new presidential palace is located, he said.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has refused to set foot in Erdogan's palace, which the opposition party has called "illegal".