Two pro-gov't newspaper offices in Istanbul vandalized by gunmen
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
AA PhotosThe Istanbul offices of two pro-government media outlets, daily Yeni Şafak and Yeni Akit, were vandalized with Molotov cocktails and weapons early on Feb. 11.
Three or four masked attackers launched an attack on Yeni Şafak’s offices in the Yenidoğan neighborhood of Istanbul’s Bayrampaşa district at 5 a.m. on Feb. 11.
Reports indicate the assailants threw Molotov cocktails at the building entrance and opened fire with long-barreled weapons.
A small fire erupted due to the Molotov cocktails but it was extinguished by building security. While the offices suffered from material damage, no casualties were reported.
Police teams and fire squads were dispatched to the crime scene, amid news of a second attack, this time targeting the Akit media group which publishes daily Yeni Akit.
According to reports, a group of masked assailants attacked the building in the Halkalı Merkez neighborhood of Küçükçekmece with Molotov cocktails and weapons at around 5:30 a.m.
The attackers arrived at the back door of the building, threw Molotov cocktails at a parked pickup truck and opened fire on the building.
A fire erupted in the truck while the assailants fled the scene in a vehicle.
Fire squads and police teams were dispatched to the media group’s offices. Police teams conducted interviews with witnesses and started investigating security footage as firefighters doused the blaze.
An investigation has been launched into both incidents.
“I harshly condemn the dirty attacks conducted by members of the terror organization on Yeni Şafak and Yeni Akit dailies,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to PKK.
The Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) condemned the attack in a written statement on Feb .11.
IPI said that the attacks appeared to be the result of a hostile climate created by government officials’ rhetoric targeting critical media outlets and ongoing impunity for those behind attacks on the offices of daily newspaper Hürriyet and one of its columnists last fall ahead of a bitterly contested snap parliamentary election.
“The failure to bring anyone to justice for the attacks by angry mobs on Hürriyet‘s offices last year sent a signal that those who don’t like journalists and media outlets criticizing government policies could attack them with impunity,” IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis said.
“It comes as little surprise that others who would resort to violence to silence speech with which they disagree took heed of that message and that violence has now spread to target pro-government media as well,” he added.
US Ambassador to Ankara John Bass has also condemned the attack on the newspapers via a message on Twitter.
“We defend Yeni Safak and Yeni Akit’s right to print and report without fear of reprisal, as we do every journalist’s. Violence against journalists is always unacceptable. A free and diverse press is essential to democratic society,” he wrote on Feb. 11.