Security Incident Prompts Closure of USCG Istanbul, Will Reopen to Public on August 11

Posted: 2:52 pm EDT
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Following the reported gunfire at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul today, the U.S. Ambassy in Ankara released the following statement:

The U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul was attacked by gunfire early this morning, August 10.  The Consulate was closed at the time and nobody was injured. The Consulate plans to reopen on August 11 to resume normal business.  U.S. Embassy Ankara remains open.  The Embassy is in contact with Turkish law enforcement and security officials who are investigating this incident.

Media reports say that a radical Turkish Marxist group, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP-C), known in the 1990s as Dev Sol (Revolutionary Left) has claimed responsibility for the attack.  The same group claimed responsibility for a 2013 suicide attack on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, which killed Turkish security guard, Mustafa Akarsu (see US Embassy Turkey: Suicide Bomber Kills Local Guard Mustafa Akarsu, Wounds One).

The State Department designated DHKP/C a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997, and reviewed and maintained this designation on July 24, 2013.  Its Rewards for Justice program offered rewards on April 2, 2014 for information on three key leaders of this terrorist organization, two of them women. (in Turkish: Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi, or DHKP/C). The Department authorized rewards of up to $3 million each for information leading to the location of Musa Asoglu, Zerrin Sari, and Seher Demir Sen.

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In related news, yesterday, six F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 31st Fighter Wing, accompanied by approximately 300 personnel and cargo deployed from Aviano Air Base, Italy, to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. This deployment coincides with Turkey’s decision to host U.S. aircraft to conduct counter-ISIL operations.

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US Embassy Ankara Restricts USG Travel to 16 Turkish Provinces

On October 23, the US Embassy in Ankara informed US citizens in Turkey that it expanded the number of provinces in the country that requires special permission for official and unofficial travel by US government employees. Excerpt below from its Emergency Message:

The Embassy advises U.S. citizens that we have recently added the provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, and Șanlıurfa to the list of provinces in southeast Turkey for which special permission is required for any necessary official or unofficial travel by U.S. government employees. The other restricted provinces are Şırnak, Diyarbakır, Van, Siirt, Muș, Mardin, Batman, Bingöl, Tunceli, Hakkâri, Bitlis and Elaziğ. U.S government employees are required to take special precautions when traveling in these provinces, to include consulting with local security officials on current threats. If road travel is necessary, drive only during daylight hours and on major highways. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that the situation in southeast Turkey, while usually calm, can change without warning. Over the past several months, provinces in southeast Turkey have experienced a substantial increase in terrorist attacks and kidnappings. Turkish towns located directly along the border with Syria have also been struck by bullets and artillery rounds originating in Syria, with some resulting in deaths or injuries.

In addition to the well-known, longstanding threat from terrorists associated with Kongra-Gel (KGK, also known as PKK), other violent extremists have transited Turkey en route to Syria. Therefore, we recommend that U.S. citizens take care in meetings with individuals claiming to represent the Syrian opposition movement.

 

I should note that we have a small consulate in Adana, as well as Incirlik Air Base a few kilometers from the city.