Istanbul police put on alert after Sultanahmet suicide attack

Istanbul police put on alert after Sultanahmet suicide attack

Çetin Aydın ISTANBUL
Turkish police intensified security measures to ward off more attacks on Jan. 7, one day after a female suicide bomber detonated herself at an Istanbul police station in the touristic area of Sultanahmet.

A policeman, Kenan Kumaş, was killed in the suicide attack by an English-speaking woman at the Tourism Police Station, a week after another attack on the city’s police by the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).

Confusion over the identity of the bomber is increasing, however, after the parents of Elif Sultan Kalsen, who was said by social media sites close to the organization to have performed the operation, said the body at the morgue did not belong to their daughter, while adding that they had not had any contact with her for many years.

The People’s Front (Halk Cephesi), an organization close to the DHKP/C, also canceled until further notice a rally outside the morgue in honor of Kalsen, amid the apparent confusion.

Police have started to examine the cell phone found on the body of the niqab-clad female suicide bomber who targeted the building of the tourism police unit near Sultanahmet Square on Jan. 6. Two hand grenades were found unexploded in the pockets of the attacker, and police are reportedly focusing on the possibility that she was foreign based on the connections in her phone.

Meanwhile, a taxi driver who drove her to the spot without knowledge of the attack told the police that she was speaking Russian.

Based on information gathered so far, police believe the woman might be a Chechen.

Police are tracking people who entered the country recently by looking for them in airport security cameras. Officers also said they did not have any ID recorded in their database for the attacker based on her fingerprints.

The assailant exploded herself at the door to the police building as she was stopped by guards at the entrance.

Istanbul Governor Vasıf Şahin said the suicide bomber presented herself as a tourist, telling the police in English that her wallet had been left inside while attempting to enter the building moments before the attack.

The DHKP/C had said in a statement on its website that “our sacrificial fighter ... carried out the sacrificial action on the tourist police department in Sultanahmet,” identifying her as Kalsen.

The body of Kumaş was sent to the Black Sea province of Trabzon’s Tonya district for a funeral. Kumaş was the father of a 2-month-old daughter.