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Turkish prosecutor dies from wounds sustained in hostage crisis

An ambulance arrives during a clash with Turkish special force on March 31, 2015 in Istanbul at the courthouse where a Turkish prosecutor was taken hostage
An ambulance arrives during a clash with Turkish special force on March 31, 2015 in Istanbul at the courthouse where a Turkish prosecutor was taken hostage Ozan Kose / AFP

A Turkish prosecutor has died from wounds he sustained Tuesday after being taken hostage at an Istanbul courthouse by two members of a banned leftist group. The suspects were killed in a shootout with police.

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"He was dead when he arrived at the hospital. We tried our best, but we failed to save him," an official from the Florence Nightingale hospital told CNN Turk.

Speaking earlier while on a visit to Romania, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the prosecutor was shot in the head and sustained several other wounds.

The state-run Anadolu Agency and the TRT television station identified the prosecutor as Mehmet Selim Kiraz.

Istanbul’s police chief, Selami Altinok, said police had negotiated with the gunmen for six hours before the violent end to the hostage situation.

Private news agency Dogan reported earlier on Tuesday that police special forces had entered the building, which had been evacuated. It wasn’t clear how the assailants smuggled their weapons into the courthouse.

Kiraz was investigating the death of a teenager who was hit by a police gas canister fired during nationwide anti-government protests in 2013.

A website close to the left-wing DHKP-C group said that militants from the banned organisation had taken the prosecutor hostage at midday and had given authorities three hours to meet five demands, including forcing policemen held responsible for the teenager’s killing to confess to his death.

The group also demanded that the policemen be tried by “peoples’ courts” and for court officials to drop prosecutions against people who took part in protests denouncing the boy’s death. The website showed a picture of someone holding a gun to a man’s head with posters from the group in the background.

Deputy chief prosecutor Orhan Kapici confirmed that the hostage-taking was related to Kiraz’s investigation into the boy’s death.

The DHKP-C, which seeks to establish a socialist state, is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The group, which was more active in the 1970s, has since carried out sporadic attacks, including a suicide bombing at the US embassy in 2013 that killed a security guard.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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