Report: 1 detained over Topkapi Palace attack

AP News
Posted: Dec 01, 2011 8:15 AM
Report: 1 detained over Topkapi Palace attack

Turkish police were on Thursday questioning one person in connection to an attack by an armed man that wounded two people at a top Istanbul tourist attraction, the country's state-run TRT television said.

The attacker, a Libyan with Syrian citizenship, opened fire at Topkapi Palace on Wednesday, wounding a soldier and a security guard before police snipers killed him. The motive for the attack is under investigation and it was not known if the attacker was affiliated with any groups or organizations.

TRT television said police had detained one person for questioning, but did not provide further information. Earlier, media reports said police were searching for a person who had stayed at the same hotel as the assailant before the attack.

Authorities said the attacker, identified as 36-year-old Samir Salem Ali Elmadhavri, arrived at the palace in a car with Syrian license plates.

Witnesses said the man, who was carrying two guns and a cartridge belt around his neck, shot the soldier in the leg and the guard in the abdomen before running into the palace courtyard through the main gate, chanting in Arabic "God is Great!"

Multiple gun shots were heard from behind the high walls of the Topkapi Palace before the attacker was killed. Police recovered dozens of used cartridges following the intense shootout.

The attack occurred minutes after Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced tough economic sanctions on Syria in response to its government's crackdown on an 8-month-old pro-democracy uprising.

The palace was the seat of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years and located in the city's historic Sultanahmet district, which also includes the Blue Mosque and the former Byzantine church of Haghia Sophia.

Turkish authorities said the attacker had entered Turkey on Sunday. Media reports said he bought the guns from a shop selling hunting gear.