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Hostages at Procter & Gamble plant outside Istanbul rescued after 9-hour ordeal

Police detain armed gunman and rescue seven hostages

Namita Singh
Friday 02 February 2024 14:37 GMT
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Seven people taken hostage by a gunman at a factory in Turkey owned by a US company have been rescued after being held for nine hours, officials said.

Authorities detained the gunman who took six men and a woman captive at American multinational Procter & Gamble’s plant outside Istanbul, apparently in protest at the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Turkish media published an image of the suspect inside the factory – a man who covered his face using a Palestinian scarf while wearing what appeared to be a vest rigged with explosives, and holding a handgun.

Another photo from the scene showed the man, who worked at the factory, holding a gun in one hand and making a “V” sign with his other hand in front of a wall on which Turkish and Palestinian flags were painted with a script that reads: “Gates will open. Either coffin rest or death for Gaza.”

Hours later, local governor Seddar Yavuz and a P&G spokesperson confirmed that the situation at the plant in Gebze in the province of Kocaeli had been resolved, adding that all personnel were safe and the assailant had been arrested.

He was held after a “meticulous” rescue operation, Mr Yavuz was quoted as saying by BBC News.

Relatives of hostages wait as Turkish police secure the area of the Procter & Gamble plant (EPA)

The rescue operation was launched after negotiations with the hostage-taker failed, said his office. “Our security forces intervened and neutralised the suspect,” the statement said, adding that he was an employee of the factory who “wanted to draw attention to the ongoing occupation in Gaza”.

“The fact that no one was harmed is our greatest relief,” said the company spokesperson. “We are grateful to the authorities and first responders who managed the situation with courage and professionalism.”

Turkish police secure the area near the Procter & Gamble plant (EPA)
Governor of Kocaeli district Seddar Yavuz speaks to the media (AFP via Getty Images)

Some 27,000 people have been killed in Israel’s military operation since 7 October, according to Gaza’s Hamas-controlled health ministry.

P&G Turkey employs 700 people at three sites in Istanbul and Kocaeli, according to the company’s website. It produces cleaning and hygiene brands such as Ariel washing powder and Oral B toothpaste.

Relatives of hostages watch on their smartphones a live broadcast made by the gunman (AFP via Getty Images)

Public feeling against Israel and its main ally the US has risen in Turkey since the conflict began, with regular protests in support of the Palestinian people in major cities and calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been particularly outspoken, referring to Israeli “war crimes” and comparing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler.

The US Embassy in Ankara issued a warning in November about demonstrations “critical of US foreign policy” and calls for boycotts of US businesses. The advice followed protests and attacks on outlets such as McDonald’s and Starbucks over the conflict in Gaza.

Additional reporting by agencies

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