Entries in Turkey (56)


Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Speaks Out Against Protesters

Photo by Kazuhiro Ibuki - Pool/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- Massive groups of anti-government demonstrators are rallying again on Sunday in Istanbul, the 10th consecutive day of protests against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan himself took to the top of a bus earlier on Sunday, telling his supporters that he had no intention of backing down in the face of the protests. Erdogan condemned his opponents as "looters," and according to BBC News, he urged his supporters to respond to the protests by turning out to vote in next year's local elections.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Protests Continue Throughout Turkey

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) -- Protesters continued demonstrations in a number of major cities in Turkey on Sunday, voicing frustration with authoritarianism and urging the government to resign after violence was used on peaceful demonstrators earlier this week.

The protests began after demonstrators protesting the destruction of Istanbul's Gezi Park were confronted with police violence on Friday. Since then, protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have broken out in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Many Turks accuse Erdogan of growing authoritarianism and spearheading Islamization.

Erdogan gave a defiant speech on Saturday in which he said that he could turn out one million people to the streets to defend him and that the true cause of violence was extremists among the protesters.

USA Today reports that over 933 people in 90 separate protests across the nation had been arrested in connection with the protests as of Saturday, but that some had been released.

In addition to the unpopular construction of a mall on the site of Gezi park, Erdogan has also created stringent restrictions on alcohol in the past month. He also recently stated publicly that women should have a minimum of three children, says USA Today.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sarai Sierra Murder Suspect Detained in Turkey

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Police in Turkey have detained a man suspected of killing Sarai Sierra, a New York mother of two who had traveled to the country to practice her photography hobby.

The man was taken into custody Sunday in Istanbul and identified by authorities only as Ziya T. He had reportedly been on the run since Sierra's body was discovered last month.

Sierra, 33, was found bludgeoned to death near a highway in Istanbul on Feb. 2. Her iPhone and iPad, the tools she used to share her photos with her thousands of Instagram followers were reportedly missing.

The Staten Island woman traveled to Turkey alone on Jan. 7 after a friend who was supposed to go with her had to cancel. It was Sierra's first overseas trip, and she kept in contact with her family the entire time, they said, sharing stories of her journey and posting photos online.

She was last heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was due to board a flight home to New York City.

Sierra had been scheduled to arrive home at Liberty Newark International Airport on Jan. 22. When her husband, Steven Sierra, called the airline, he was told his wife never boarded the flight from Istanbul.

An intense two-week search for for Sarai Sierra ended when her battered body was found.

The motive for the killing is still unknown.

The family of the amateur photographer put her photos up for sale and quickly sold enough photographs to pay for her funeral, Sierra's brother said.

The photos remain on sale and the profits will now be going to her two sons, ages 11 and 9, the family said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Reports: Sketches of US Consulate in Istanbul Found in Terror Raid

Burak Kara/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Turkish news outlets reported on Thursday that local security forces found sketches of the U.S. consulate in Istanbul along with explosives during a multi-city raid against suspected terrorists.

The private Dogan News Agency, as well as the English-language Today's Zaman, reported 11 alleged members of al Qaeda were arrested in a counter-terror operation Wednesday in Istanbul and the northwestern city of Tekirdag.

Today's Zaman said the suspects were arrested "after reportedly planning to stage terrorist attacks on targets in Istanbul, including the U.S. Consulate, a synagogue and a church."

Dogan reported 25 kg of explosives were seized "along with some sketches of the U.S. General Consulate of Istanbul."  Several firearms were also reportedly confiscated.

A U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security official told ABC News the department was aware of the reports but declined to comment further.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Several Killed in Car Bomb Blast Near Turkish Border Crossing

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ANKARA, Turkey) -- Turkish officials say that at least 13 people were killed on Monday when a minibus loaded with explosives detonated near their country's border with Syria.

As many as 30 people were also wounded in the powerful blast that is under investigation.  No one has yet claimed responsibility for the apparent suicide attack.

According to investigators, the minibus with Syrian license plates was traveling in a no-man's section between the two nations when it suddenly exploded just a short distance from the Cilvegozu border post in Turkey.

At the time of the bombing, dozens of Syrian civilians and Turkish humanitarian workers had congregated around the border gate.

The crossing has been used extensively for months by Syrian refugees attempting to flee the conflict in their homeland.  The Turkish government has spoken out against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for perpetuating violence against his own people.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Leftist Group Claims It Attacked US Embassy in Turkey

ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images(ANKARA, Turkey) -- A Marxist group says it was responsible for last Friday's terrorist attack at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, that killed a Turkish guard and the suicide bomber.

The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, which has previously targeted American and Western interests in Turkey, called the U.S. government "the murderers of the peoples [sic] of the world."

DNA tests on the bomber showed that he was a known terrorist who was sent to prison for attacking sites in Istanbul but had been released as part of an amnesty program.

Turkish police also said they had arrested three suspects in connection with the embassy bombing.

At a White House briefing last Friday, press secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. government would work with Ankara to find those responsible for the bombing, which, other than killing the guard, did not harm any personnel stationed at the mission in Ankara.

Initially, the administration was working under the assumption that Islamic militants might have been behind the attack as they were when the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, came under siege last Sept. 11.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sarai Sierra: Body of Missing American Mom Reportedly Found in Turkey

Courtesy Sarai Sierra's family(NEW YORK) -- The body of an American woman who went missing while on a solo trip to Turkey has been found in Istanbul, and nine people have been held for questioning, according to local media.

Sarai Sierra, 33, was last heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was due to board a flight home to New York City.

The state-run Andolu Agency reported that residents found a woman's body Saturday near the ruins of some ancient city walls in a low-income district, and police identified the body as Sierra.

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-NY, who with his staff had been assisting the Sierra family in the search, said he was "deeply saddened" to hear the news of her death.

"I urge Turkish officials to move quickly to identify whomever is responsible for her tragic death and ensure that any guilty parties are punished to the fullest extent of the law," he said in a statement.

The New York City mother, who has two young boys, traveled to Turkey alone on Jan. 7 after a friend had to cancel. Sierra, who is an avid photographer with a popular Instagram stream, planned to document her dream vacation with her camera.

"It was her first time outside of the United States, and every day while she was there she pretty much kept in contact with us, letting us know what she was up to, where she was going, whether it be through texting or whether it be through video chat, she was touching base with us," Steven Sierra told ABC News before he departed for Istanbul last Sunday to aid in the search.

Steven Sierra has been in the country, meeting with U.S. officials and local authorities, as they searched for his wife.

On Friday, Turkish authorities detained a man who had spoken with Sierra online before her disappearance. The identity of the man and the details of his arrest were not disclosed, The Associated Press reported.

The family said it is completely out of character for the happily married mother, who met her husband in church youth group, to disappear.

She took two side trips, to Amsterdam and Munich, before returning to Turkey, but kept in contact with her family the entire time, a family friend told ABC News.

Further investigation revealed she had left her passport, clothes, phone chargers and medical cards in her room at a hostel in Beyoglu, Turkey.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Security Guard Killed from Bombing Outside of the US Embassy in Turkey Identified

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ANKARA, Turkey) -- U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone said on Saturday that Mustafa Akarsu died a hero for protecting the U.S. embassy and saved his American and Turkish colleagues from a suicide bomber.

Akarsu was the only person killed from the embassy by a suicide attack that occurred on Friday, and he worked as a security guard for the U.S. embassy for more than 20 years, according to Ricciardone.

Hundreds attended Akarsu’s funeral on Saturday, including a dozen members of the U.S. embassy.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Explosion Outside US Embassy in Turkey

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ANKARA, Turkey) -- Ambulances rushed to the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey on Friday after an apparent suicide bombing took place outside the building.

Citing Turkish officials, the BBC reports two people -- a security guard and the bomber -- were killed.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the attack a "terrorist blast," and said it happened "at a check point on the perimeter" of the embassy at 1:13 p.m. local time.

"We are working closely with the Turkish national police to make a full assessment of the damage and the casualties, and to begin an investigation.  We will share more information as it becomes available," she said in a statement.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Family of Missing New York Woman Heading to Turkey to Help Search

Courtesy Sarai Sierra's family(NEW YORK) -- The husband and brother of a New York City woman who vanished in Turkey on her first solo trip overseas are heading to the country to assist in the search.

Sarai Sierra, 33, was supposed to arrive back in the United States on Jan. 22, but she never showed up for her flight home, her family said.

Her husband, Steven Sierra, and her brother, David Jimenez, are scheduled to arrive in the country Monday afternoon and plan to meet with local officials and media to help bolster the search.

Sarai, who is an avid photographer, went ahead with the Jan. 7 trip after a friend had to cancel.  Throughout her journey, Sarai kept in contact with her family.

"It was her first time outside of the United States, and every day while she was there she pretty much kept in contact with us, letting us know what she was up to, where she was going, whether it be through texting or whether it be through video chat, she was touching base with us," Steven said.

But when it came time to pick her up from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, Sarai wasn't on board her scheduled flight.

Steven called United Airlines and was told his wife had never boarded the flight home.

Further investigation revealed she had left her passport, clothes, phone chargers and medical cards in her room at a hostel in Beyoglu, Turkey, he said.

The family is suspicious and said it is completely out of character for the happily married mother of 11-year-old and 9-year-old sons, who met her husband in a church youth group, to disappear.

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey and the Turkish National Police are involved in the investigation, ABC News affiliate WABC-TV reported.

"They've been keeping us posted, from my understanding they've been looking into hospitals and sending out word to police stations over there," Steven said.  "Maybe she's, you know, locked up, so they are doing what they can."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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