News

Turkey frees seven hostages taken by pro-Gaza gunman

By AFP

February 2, 2024 10:27 AM


Representational image

Turkish police on Thursday released seven workers taken hostage by a pro-Palestinian gunman at a plant near Istanbul owned by US consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble in protest at the war in Gaza.

Local officials said police staged a raid nearly nine hours into the standoff when the lone gunman took a bathroom break.

The man was detained unharmed, local governor Seddar Yavuz told reporters.

"The man's aim was to stop Israel's massacre in Gaza and to open the Rafa gate in Egypt" for the delivery of humanitarian aid for trapped civilians, Yavuz said.

"When he went out for a bathroom break, our security forces carried out an operation without harming the hostages."

Photos and videos of the assailant shared online by one of the hostages and verified by AFP showed a man -- his face hidden by a Palestinian scarf -- holding a gun with what appeared to be a suicide vest strapped to his chest.

He was standing next to a drawing of the Palestinian flag and the words "the door will be opened for Gaza" painted on the wall in red.

Yavuz said the man was carrying two guns and appeared to have explosives strapped to his chest, adding that "we had to evaluate every possibility".

Distressed relatives of the hostages who had gathered at the cordoned-off facility broke into applause when informed about their loved ones' release by local officials.

"We are very happy after the tense long hours of waiting," said Fatma Dursun, whose nephew was taken hostage.

"Thank God they are all safe and sound," she told AFP.

- 'For Islam' -

Relatives of the hostages initially questioned why the assailant would target workers in Turkey -- a country strongly supportive of the Palestinian cause -- to show his solidarity with the people of Gaza.

"He supposedly does this for Islam, but they are the ones who harm Islam the most," Sedat Degirmenci, whose son-in-law was taken hostage, told AFP.

"If you do this for Palestine, go and fight there," added Cigdem Aydemir, the mother of a 26-year-old woman taken hostage at the plant.

Like other relatives, Aydemir was following the hostage-taker's Instagram account for updates about the situation.

The account became inaccessible by Thursday evening.

The war in Gaza was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Militants also seized about 250 hostages. Israel says 132 remain in Gaza, including at least 29 people who are believed to have been killed.

Following the deadliest attack in Israel's history, its military launched an offensive on Gaza. It has killed at least 27,019 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

- Erdogan criticism -

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emerged as one of the Muslim world's harshest critics of Israel because of the massive civilian death toll from its campaign against Hamas militants.

He has branded Israel a "terrorist state" and compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler.

Erdogan has also accused the United States of supporting "genocide" in Gaza.

Erdogan's comments reflect widespread anger across the predominantly Muslim but officially secular country at the United States for its traditional support for Israel.

Hundreds of protesters stormed a southeastern Turkish air base used by US and British forces on the eve of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to Ankara in November.

Turkish online campaigns are also trying to organise boycotts of US products such as Coca-Cola and the coffee chain Starbucks.


AFP


Most Read

  1. Foreigners safe after suicide-bomber targets their van in Karachi Foreigners safe after suicide-bomber targets their van in Karachi
  2. Finance minister rules out further rupee devaluation Finance minister rules out further rupee devaluation
  3. Mehar Bano and Mamya Shajaffar’s bold dance videos invite public's wrath Mehar Bano and Mamya Shajaffar’s bold dance videos invite public's wrath
  4. Iran shoots down several drones as Israel ‘launches’ attacks Iran shoots down several drones as Israel ‘launches’ attacks
  5. Solar panel rate sinks massively in Lahore Solar panel rate sinks massively in Lahore
  6. Woman gives birth to sextuplets in Rawalpindi Woman gives birth to sextuplets in Rawalpindi

Opinion

  1. Insights into the Pakistan Stock Exchange's Recent Record High Triumph
    Insights into the Pakistan Stock Exchange's Recent Record High Triumph

    By Zulfiqar Ali Mir

  2. IMEC to sabotage CPEC
    IMEC to sabotage CPEC

    By Dr Asif Channer

  3. 1947 TO FORM 47
    1947 TO FORM 47

    By Dr Asif Channer

  4. Beijing wants to further highlight industrial sector in its country and take scientific innovation to new heights....
    Beijing wants to further highlight industrial sector in its country and take scientific innovation to new heights....

    By Ali Ramay

  5. Global race: China will reduce its unnecessary expenses
    Global race: China will reduce its unnecessary expenses

    By Ali Ramay

  6. Channer Pir: The Great Saint of Cholistan
    Channer Pir: The Great Saint of Cholistan

    By Dr Asif Channer