One of Istanbul’s main tourist attractions was attacked by a heavily-armed gunman today, wounding a Turkish soldier and a security guard before police killed him.
The motive for the assault at Topkapi Palace was not immediately known. But police said the man, a Libyan, had entered Turkey only three days ago. Turkey supported the popular uprising that defeated Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Multiple gun shots were heard from behind the high walls of the Topkapi Palace before the attacker was killed, and some tourists threw themselves on the ground.
Topkapi Palace, the seat of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years, is in the city’s historic Sultanahmet district, which also includes the Blue Mosque and the former Byzantine church of Haghia Sophia.
The palace – including ornate courtyards, gilded treasures and dozens of rooms that once housed harems, attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Witnesses said the man 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!”
The gunman made no demands and police decided to shoot him when he refused to surrender.