Ceremonies held at courthouse for victims of İzmir terror attack

Ceremonies held at courthouse for victims of İzmir terror attack

Ceremonies held at courthouse for victims of İzmir terror attack

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İzmir traffic policeman Fethi Sekin, who has been declared a hero after his actions prevented a greater loss of life in an attack on the province’s courthouse on Jan. 5, was given a final send-off on Jan. 6 after dying in a shootout with two militants.

Ceremonies were held for Sekin and the other victim of the attack, courthouse employee Musa Can, at the courthouse targeted in the attack.

Attendees observed a minute of silence and sang the national anthem.

Sekin noticed the assailants as they attempted to enter a courthouse parking lot to stage the attack, entering into a battle with the militants at 4:10 p.m. in İzmir’s Bayraklı district.

The two militants also died in the shootout with Sekin and other officers, although the perpetrators’ identities have not yet been disclosed. 

After Sekin prevented them from entering the car park, the perpetrators left the vehicle and started to run away from the scene. One of them detonated the explosives loaded into the car, but the blast caused no casualties.

Chasing the perpetrators after they detonated the vehicle, Sekin engaged in clashes with them until he ran out of bullets, according to video footage that has emerged of the incident.

The officer killed one of the attackers in the clashes but he was also shot dead after he ran out of bullets. Another attacker escaped toward a construction site adjacent to the courthouse, but he was also killed by other police officers in clashes. 

The second casualty of the attack occurred when Can was hit in the head by a bullet as he was observing the clashes out of a window of the courthouse building. Nine other people, including two police officers, were also wounded in the clashes with the attackers. 

Can had been an employee at Tekel, Turkey’s former alcoholic beverages and tobacco company, before it was privatized.

He was then appointed as an employee at the courthouse. 

The United June Movement (BHH), one of the key actors in the 2013 Gezi Park Protests, released a message on social media, saying Can was a member. 

Conducting inspections after the clashes, police teams determined that there were only two attackers and that they had brought another vehicle to the scene amid plans to escape with the second car after the attack. Police also detonated that vehicle. 

Meanwhile, scores of online campaigns were launched through campaign websites with people trying to collect signatories to convince officials to rename boulevards, streets and the courthouse where the attack occurred after Sekin.      

One of the campaigners also called on the president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker to rename the street where Sekin was killed in the clashes after the victim; to provide for the education costs of his three children at the best private schools and to offer a life-long salary to his widow. 

The İzmir Chamber of Commerce and İzmir University of Economics announced that they would foot the bill for all the education expenses of Sekin’s three children as they commemorated the two victims of the attack. The Turkish Education Association also announced publicly that they were willing to provide for the education costs of the children of both of victims, Sekin and Can. 

A group of fans of Istanbul side Galatasaray also launched a campaign asking team executives to transfer a son of Sekin, Burak Tolunay Sekin, to the minor team of the club. The campaign came after the Galatasaray fans learned on social media that Sekin was a licensed player in a local İzmir team but was also a big fan of Galatasaray.  

Responding to the campaign on Jan. 6, Galatasaray issued a statement on its website the club would “open the doors of Galatasaray’s youth team wide” for the son of the “martyr” and that the club would provide all manner of support to the Sekin family, including the provision of education costs.

Many political figures have also praised the heroic act of Sekin. “Have you seen our police officer who pounced on the terrorists like a lion in İzmir yesterday? In this country there are 80 million heroes like our police officer in İzmir,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Jan. 6.