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Leftist militant shoots dead 2 before being killed in Turkey

A FIVE-HOUR police shoot-out with a leftist militant in Istanbul, Turkey, left three people dead, including the militant, described as a top member of a group tied to the Kurdish separatist PKK, authorities said.

A police officer and an onlooker were also killed, and seven police and a television cameraman were wounded, Interior Minister Besir Atalay said.

The clash began with a dawn police raid at an apartment building in Istanbul's Bostanci district. The militant responded by throwing two explosive devices that wounded several officers, Governor Muammer Guler of Istanbul said.

The raid was part of a crackdown on leftist, Kurdish and radical Islamic groups, Atalay said. He said police rounded up more than 40 suspects in 60 overnight raids, but there were no other clashes. Eleven of the suspects belonged to the Revolutionary Headquarters, he added.

"They were planning to stage sensational armed attacks soon," Guler said. "We have seized lots of weapons, bombs and booby traps."

The militant involved in the shoot-out had a police radio and identified himself as a fighter from the Revolutionary Headquarters during a radio conversation with the police, which was broadcast on HaberTurk television.

"I am a fighter and will fight until the end," the militant said. "I will probably be killed, but our struggle against fascism, terrorism will go on as it did in the past."

The gunman talked about the "brotherhood of people," a term used by leftists to describe their solidarity with Kurds.

Atalay identified the militant as Orhan Yilmazkaya, one of three top members of the Revolutionary Headquarters.

"It is a leftist group which is also linked to the separatist group," Atalay said in reference to the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which collaborated with several groups in the past.

Atalay said the group had carried out attacks on military targets and the ruling Justice and Development Party office in Istanbul in the past.

The militant had a large amount of ammunition, including booby traps, and was able to hold off hundreds of officers for more than five hours, Guler said.

The gunman fired from behind a curtain of a window that was riddled with bullet holes.

One shot from the safe house grazed the head of a TV cameraman and hit an onlooker, killing him.

Civilians peered from windows as anti-terrorism police ducked and sheltered behind armored vehicles. Police fired several tear gas canisters that set a fire. Smoke billowed from the building at the end of the clash.


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