Assailant takes hostages in Gaza protest near Istanbul

ISTANBUL – An assailant on Feb 1 took people hostage at a plant owned by US consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble near Istanbul in protest at the war in Gaza, a police spokesman said.

A union representing workers at the sprawling complex said the assailant was holding seven people, adding that the rest of the plant’s workers had been released.

A police spokesman could not confirm the figure to AFP, and the US embassy in Ankara referred all queries to Turkish officials.

“Earlier today, we evacuated our Gebze facility and are working with local authorities to resolve an urgent security situation,” P&> said in a statement released to AFP, adding that it had no information about the assailant’s motives.

“The safety of P&> people and our partners is our top priority,” the Cincinnati, Ohio based company added.

The private DHA news agency published a photo widely circulated online of the alleged assailant holding a gun and what appeared to be a suicide vest strapped to his chest.

The man was standing next to a drawing of the Palestinian flag and the words “the door will be opened for Gaza” painted on the wall in red.

AFP could not immediately verify the image, which Turkish media said came from a social media feed set up by the hostage taker.

“It is true,” the police spokesman said when asked to confirmed media reports that the attack was linked to Gaza.

Haberturk television reported that police had established contact with the assailant and were attempting to negotiate the hostages’ release.

Footage from the scene showed police setting up a cordon around the sprawling plant, and fire trucks and ambulances rushing in.

Erdogan criticism

The war in Gaza was triggered by Hamas’ Oct 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Militants also seized about 250 hostages. Israel says 132 remain in Gaza, including at least 29 people who are believed to have been killed.

Following the deadliest attack in Israel’s history, its military launched a withering offensive that has killed at least 27,019 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

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