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Hostage-takers killed in Istanbul siege

March 31, 2015

Two gunmen who took an Istanbul prosecutor hostage have been killed in a shootout with Turkish police. The captive, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, has died in hospital in the aftermath of the attack.

Image: Getty Images/AFP/O. Kose

Security forces launched an operation to end the six-hour standoff on Tuesday evening, after hearing gunshots ring out from the Istanbul courthouse where state prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz was being held hostage, police said.

"As a result of the operation, two terrorists were killed," Istanbul's police chief Selami Altinok told reporters outside the building. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Kiraz had been shot three times in the head and twice in the body. He died despite being rushed to hospital for emergency surgery.

Before storming the courthouse to end the hostage situation, authorities said they spent several hours negotiating with the two assailants, believed to be members of banned leftist group Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

Kiraz had been investigating the death of teenager Berkin Elvan, who was injured by a teargas canister fired by police during anti-government protests in 2013. The 15-year-old fell into a coma and died in March last year.

A website close to the DHKP-C group said the gunmen had taken the lawyer captive at around midday and had given authorities three hours to meet a list of demands, including forcing the policemen responsible for the teenager's killing to confess to the death. The radical leftists threatened to kill the prosecutor if their demands weren't met.

The DHKP-C is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The group has carried out sporadic attacks, including a 2013 suicide bombing on the US Embassy that left a security guard dead.

nm/jr (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)