Gunmen open fire at Şişli municipal building in Istanbul downtown

Gunmen open fire at Şişli municipal building in Istanbul downtown

Gunmen open fire at Şişli municipal building in Istanbul downtown

Police found some 15 long barrel gun shells around the municipal building. DHA photo

Armed gunmen opened fire late Jan. 27 on the municipal building of Şişli, one of the most vibrant and central districts on Istanbul’s European side. 

The attack caused no casualties, police said, although the assault seemed to target Mustafa Sarıgül, the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate for Istanbul mayor and the current mayor of Şişli, ahead of the March 30 local elections.

The gun assault also came in the wake of an attack against a Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) election office in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district that killed party adviser Cengiz Akyıldız on Jan. 26.

“Such an armed [attack] against our Şişli Municipality a day after an incident that took place at a MHP election office and cost the life of one of our citizens is worrying. This is an attack against democracy ahead of the elections,” Sarıgül was quoted as saying by daily Hürriyet following the attack.

The attack took place around 11:30 p.m. and was carried out by two gunmen, according to initial findings, Sarıgül said. Some 15 long barrel gun shells were found in the proximity of the municipal building, police said. Gunshots also reportedly destroyed some of the windows of the edifice.

“It is necessary to shed light on this incident. My only plea from our citizens is to keep their tranquility. In our campaign, we will display the philosophy of not hurting, even we have been hurt. We will absolutely not have anything to do with hate and grudges,” Sarıgül said.

The government vowed on Jan. 27 to take additional security measures for the local elections as an apparent response to the killing of Akyıldız.

Security for the elections was also brought up by Ankara Metropolitan Mayor Melih Gökçek, who claimed there could be political assassinations on the eve of the polls.

For his part, Sarıgül faces corruption allegations from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) after Turkey’s state fund moved to seize some of his assets two weeks ago for an alleged unpaid loan acquired in 1998. 

The CHP has brushed aside the allegations, describing them as a “sign of panic” at the prospect of losing elections in Turkey’s largest city.