Istanbul police shoot man who removed flag

Istanbul police shoot man who removed flag

Çetin Aydın / Eyüp Serbest ISTANBUL
Istanbul police shoot man who removed flag

The masts of a private hospital (R) and a police station (L) in the Gaziosmanpaşa neighborhood of Istanbul.

Police have shot a 28-year-old man in Istanbul after he tried to remove a Turkish flag from the mast of a local police center.

The incident came weeks after the removal of a Turkish flag from a mast inside an Air Force base in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, which sparked a heated political debate.

The 28-year-old man removed the Turkish flag from a mast in front of a private hospital in Istanbul's Gaziosmanpaşa neighborhood on June 28.

The man reportedly shouted "Freedom to Kurds" while swinging a knife, before moving to the police station. Officers at the police district center first warned him and then used tear gas when he approached the mast in front of the building.

The man, who reportedly came to Istanbul 15 days ago, refused to back down and was shot in his leg by the officers on duty while attempting to remove the flag. 

"The person was injured and is currently at hospital," said Ali Uslanmaz, a local official.

Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, on the other hand, congratulated the police. "I condemn the dirty hand that still can attack our glorious flag and attempt to provocate even on this holy day," Mutlu said, referring to the start of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

A masked Kurdish protestor, who was later identified as a 16-year-old boy, sparked an outcry after removing the flag from a mast at a Turkish army air base in Diyarbakır on June 8.

"The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into the issue. The fact that [the demonstrator] is a child does not concern us. He will pay the price the same way as those who sent him there. We will not remain silent just because the person who has attacked our sacred [symbol] in such way is a child," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on June 9.