Entries in Turkey (56)


Desperate Search to Find Turkey Earthquake Survivors

ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images(ISTANBUL, Turkey) -- Aftershocks as strong as magnitude 6.0 rocked Turkey into the night, following a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit eastern Turkey earlier Sunday, leveling dozens of buildings and leaving more than 200 people dead.

As many as 100 aftershocks were recorded after the initial temblor, including at least four of magnitude 5.1 or greater throughout the day.

With the death toll expected to climb dramatically, rescuers frantically searched for survivors in Van and Ercis, two of the hardest hit cities near Iran's western border.

Crews are using whatever heavy equipment is available to dig people out from under the rubble with family and friends of victims resorting to using shovels and their own hands to sort through fallen debris.

The quake, which struck the region at 1:41 p.m. local time, was upgraded from a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 to 7.3 magnitude.  The U.S. Geological Survey later revised the magnitude to 7.2.

The depth of the epicenter was considered shallow -- 12.4 miles, shallower than the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010 -- and more potentially destructive, combined with the poor building codes in the region.

Earthquakes and seismic activity are nothing new to Turkey, as the area is riddled with faults, but the USGS said Sunday's quake is the biggest to hit in the region in more than four decades.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


At Least 85 Dead, Thousands Missing in Turkey Earthquake 

Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images)(ISTANBUL, Turkey) -- At least 85 people are dead after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook eastern Turkey Sunday afternoon, authorities report.

About 45 buildings collapsed, according to the deputy prime minister Besir Atalay.

The worst damage was reported in the town of Ercis in the mountainous eastern province of Van, close to the Iranian border, where nearly 600,000 people live.

The city of Van also suffered substantial damage.

"Around 10 buildings have collapsed in the city of Van and around 25 or 30 have collapsed in Ercis, including a dormitory," Atalay said.

As many as a thousand people are feared dead as the earthquake was not only strong but shallow—just 4.5 miles deep.

The quake struck the region at 1:41 p.m. local time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Magnitude 7.2 Earthquake Shakes Eastern Turkey

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL, Turkey) -- An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 shook eastern Turkey Sunday where at least two buildings collapsed in the city of Van, near the Iranian border, authorities said.

The quake struck the region at 1:41 p.m. local time. The quake was upgraded from a 6.6 to 7.2 magnitude. Its depth was considered shallow at 4.5 miles.

State run media reported rescue crews were working to free people trapped under the seven-story building that collapsed.

It is unclear the number of injuries that were sustained or deaths that have occurred due to the earthquake.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kurd Rebels Kill 24 Turkish Soldiers; White House Condemns Attack

Thinkstock/Comstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Wednesday condemned the latest aggression by the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in which at least 24 Turkish soldiers were killed on their border with northern Iraq.

The U.S. and other nations consider the PKK a terrorist organization that has fought the Turkish government since 1984 for an autonomous Kurdistan and the rights of Kurds living in southeastern Turkey.

Tens of thousands of people have died during the 27-year-long conflict and this latest incident dashes any hopes of finding a peaceful settlement to Turkey's ongoing battle with the PKK.

According to reports, as many as 200 PKK fighters attacked a Turkish military outpost early Wednesday, leaving two dozen soldiers dead.

Turkey responded by sending fighter jets into northern Iraq to go after the militants.  Kurds who govern the semiautonomous region have allowed Ankara to attack the terrorist group so long as the incursion is not too deep.

Wednesday's incident comes at a time when the U.S. is preparing to withdraw virtually all of its remaining forces from central and southern Iraq by the end of the year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Payback? Istanbul Assassination Victims Linked to Moscow Bombing

Vans of the Russian Emergencies Ministry wait outside Moscow's Domodedovo international airport on January 24, 2011, shortly after a suspected suicide bombing. ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- Two of the three suspected Chechen militants gunned down in what appeared to be a professional assassination in Istanbul last week shared a link to one of the deadliest terror attacks in Russian history.

Rustam Altemirov, who Turkish police said was shot by an assailant with a silenced pistol on the street in broad daylight last Friday along with two other men, was charged in absentia in June for his alleged role in the suicide bombing of Moscow's Domodedovo airport in January, according to Russia's state news organization.  The bombing killed 37 people and injured more than 100 more.

Another of the men killed in Istanbul, Berg-Khazh Musavei, was a reportedly "close associate" of Chechen terrorist Doku Umarov, the man who bragged in a video online that he was the one who ordered the Domodedovo bombing as well as an earlier deadly attack on Moscow's subway system.

The third victim in the shooting, Zaurbek Amriyev, has also reportedly been linked to Chechen anti-Russian operations.  All were killed the afternoon of Sept. 16 when the assailant fired 11 shots in less than 30 seconds from a silenced pistol, including several headshots, according to major Turkish news reports.

The Turkish reports said police received a tip Monday as to where the assailant was staying, but arrived just minutes after the killer slipped away.

But the supposed assassin left in such a hurry that his equipment -- including the silenced pistol, a night-vision camera and binoculars -- were left behind, as well as a passport identifying the suspect as a Russian citizen named Zharkov Alexander, the reports said.  Ballistic tests on the gun reportedly showed it was the one that had been used in the triple murder.

A Turkish official told ABC News Wednesday the country's intelligence service was investigating whether Alexander had any connection with the Russian government -- an accusation already leveled by Chechen rights groups and media, who said he was a spy for Russia's intelligence agency, FSB.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in the U.S. said that any implication the Russian government was somehow involved in the killing is "pure speculation having nothing [to do] with reality."

Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and now ABC News consultant, said that whoever the killer is, he appeared to be a professional.

"This clearly looks like an organized kill... it doesn't have any flavor of a street crime," Garrett said.  "The silencer, that even adds to the belief that this was an execution... I would say he's somebody that was sent to do what he did."

As Turkish police continue to investigate the killing and chase down Zharkov, one Russian official involved in the North Caucuses offered a blunt opinion on the assassination to Russia's Izvestia newspaper.

"If those killed were really involved in suicide bombings, then everything that happened is a normal phenomenon in the war," Maxim Shevchenko, head of the working group for the North Caucasus of the Public Chamber, told the paper.  "They've declared war on the Russian state, and it is logical that the security services respond with a group of liquidators and cleansers."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Car Bomb Rocks the Turkish Capital

Turkish firefighters work on September 20, 2011 at the site where a suspected car bomb exploded, wounding at least 15 people in the center of the Turkish capital Ankara. AFP/Getty Images(ANKARA, Turkey) -- A car bomb that exploded in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Tuesday has killed at least three people and wounded 34.

The bomb exploded near a high school in a busy area and ignited other vehicles around it. The three people killed were in a nearby building.

It has not been confirmed who is the responsible for the attack.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Israeli Prime Minister Reacts as Turkish Ties Falter

Jim Hollander - pool/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- After more than two years of diplomatic disputes, Turkey has kicked Israel's ambassador out of the country and downgraded diplomatic ties to the lowest possible level, that of second secretary.

Israel is downplaying the dramatic nosedive in ties with Turkey. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he believed "common sense and cool-headedness" will eventually prevail on both sides. But a sense of serious concern surfaced Wednesday as Netanyahu called his closest advisors into a closed-door meeting.  

Most experts in Israel agree that this political split with Turkey is here to stay, and that more than a decade of close political and military ties has ended.

Netanyahu has not responded directly to the Turkish Prime Minister Tayipp Erodogen's reprimands from Cairo this week, which show the one-time ally is now taking an increasingly stronger stance against Israel.  

Erodogen rallied against Netanyahu's government, calling it a barrier to peace, and accused Israel of committing an act of aggression during its takeover of a Gaza aid ship in 2009 that left nine Turks dead. Erdogen also reprimanded Israel for opposing the Palestinian bid for statehood in the U.N., saying it was acting like a "spoiled child."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Turkey Expels Israel Ambassador Over Flotilla Incident; UN Report Released

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstoc(NEW YORK) -- Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated further on Friday as Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador.

The expulsion comes on the same day as the release of a United Nations report on the May 31, 2010 flotilla incident which left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead. The activists were aboard the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara which was among a group of six vessels carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza. The vessel was stopped by Israeli military who fired live rounds into the ship killing the nine activists.

According to BBC News, the U.N. Secretary General's Panel of Inquiry completed the report in July but its release was delayed while the two governments attempted to repair their relationship. One of the recommendations by the U.N. panel was for Israel to pay compensation and issue an apology for the deaths. During discussions with Turkey, Israel agreed to the compensation but refused to issue a full apology. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that his country was ending its friendship with Israel.

The report, which was leaked to the New York Times, states that, "the flotilla acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade. The majority of the flotilla participants had no violent intentions, but there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers." 

The panel chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, however, found Israel's response to be excessive and unacceptable after forensic evidence showed some were shot multiple times and at close range. The panel stated that future humanitarian missions to Gaza should be undertaken after consultation with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

"The secretary general's idea was to help bring these two countries back together again. He deeply regrets the fact that this has not been possible through this report," said deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey, according to BBC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Turkey: Al Qaeda Planned Attack on US Embassy

United States Ambassador to Turkey, Francis J. Ricciardone. US State Dept(ANKARA, Turkey) -- An al Qaeda plot to attack the U.S. embassy in Turkey was thwarted Wednesday when 15 suspected terrorists were arrested by Turkish authorities, the country's state news agency reported.

The Anatolia news agency, citing official sources, said in its report that anti-terror operations in three cities resulted in the arrest of the 15 individuals as well as the discovery of about 700 kilograms (1,550 pounds) of chemicals which could be used to make explosives and two automatic rifles. Police said the weapons were to be used in attacks on multiple locations, including the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Anatolia reported.

The Turkish Interior Minister confirmed the arrests Wednesday, according to Western media reports, but did not provide any more information about the alleged plot.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters he had no information about the threat to the embassy, but said the State Department is in touch with Turkish officials.

According to Anatolia news, Turkish anti-terror police had been on the trail of a prime terror suspect, identified only as C.I. for six months before making their move. C.I. was reportedly trained in bomb making and had established contact with an al Qaeda operative.

Though al Qaeda does not have as high of a profile in Turkey as in Somalia or Yemen; it has a well-established presence there. Last year, Turkish authorities rounded up 120 suspected al Qaeda members, according to a report by the BBC. Just last month, another 10 suspected al Qaeda militants were reportedly arrested in a southern Turkish town.

In 2010, Turkey suffered 40 terror attacks resulting in 22 deaths, according to the National Counter-Terrorism Center.

Representatives at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara were not immediately available for comment on this report.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Syrian Army Visible from Turkey; Extra Buses Sent for Fleeing Syrians

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(GUVECCI, Turkey) -- Along the Turkey-Syria border last week there were reports that the Syrian army was just a few kilometers away. Border towns were emptied, thousands fled in fear. On Thursday, those Syrian forces finally came into view in the hills across from Guvecci, Turkey, reportedly storming the Syrian border town of Khirbet al-Jouz.

A Syrian flag was raised over a watchtower where a Turkish flag had been flown by the refugees -- soldiers and armored personnel carriers were visible. Snipers were reportedly on rooftops.

So what does this mean for the thousands still camped out inside Syria?

AFP reports several hundred broke through a fence to get into Turkey.

A spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees tells ABC News that the Red Crescent believes at least 600 came across into camps Thursday. A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman says they have sent more buses over than usual to pick up displaced Syrians but won't know the final count until Friday.

There were 10,224 refugees in Turkish camps Thursday morning -- a number that's been slowly decreasing in the last few days as Syrians try to head home.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio