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Gunmen Attack Police Checkpoint Outside US Consulate in Istanbul

Authorities in Istanbul say six people were killed in an attack on a police checkpoint protecting the U.S. Consulate. From Istanbul, Dorian Jones reports for VOA several other people were wounded, but no Americans were hurt in what is described as a terrorist attack.

Before midday, four gunmen attacked a police checkpoint protecting the entrance of the Istanbul U.S. Consulate.

According to eyewitnesses the gunmen drove up to the checkpoint in a white car and opened fire with pistols. The ensuing gun battle lasted several minutes.

Istanbul chief prosecutor Ayhurt Cengiz Engin spoke at the scene.

He says three policemen were martyred and three terrorists attackers were also killed. He said unfortunately one of the attackers managed to escape.

Istanbul security forces supported by helicopters are engaged in a manhunt for the surviving assailant.

Turkish TV broadcast graphic images of three dead bodies believed to be the attackers outside the entrance to the consulate. Turkish reports say a number of other people were injured.

The press spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy said none of its staff was injured. U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson, speaking in Ankara, condemned the shooting as a terrorist attack and said his staff is working closely with Turkish authorities.

"We will be sharing all our information that we have and I assume the Turkish authorities will do likewise. We will do everything we can to assist with the investigation," the ambassador said.

It is still unclear what the motive for this attack was.

Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler, speaking at the scene, said he is determined to find all those responsible.

He says all efforts are being made by all of our security forces to find all those involved in this terrorist attack.

Turkey is home to numerous illegal groups with strong anti-American agendas, ranging from far-left organizations and Kurdish nationalists to radical Islamic movements.

But it is still not clear whether the police or the consulate was the target of the attack.

In 2003 a group linked to al-Qaida bombed the British consulate in Istanbul and the local headquarters of a British-based bank, killing scores of people and injuring hundreds more. Following that attack, the U.S. consulate was moved from the center of the city to its present, more secure, location on top of a hill.