ÇINAR KİPER - First Person
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
After racing from the Asian side of Istanbul upon word of a terrorist attack, I tried to prepare for a scene of shock and horror. But the surprise was the sense of grim normalcy, a lack of shock really as I stepped out of the cab down the road from the U.S. consulate after as-yet-unidentified assailants fired on police stationed at the front gate.
About three hours after three policemen died in a hail of bullets and three gunmen were killed in return fire, the road leading up the hill to the fortified consulate had a few dozen frustrated journalists in front of a police line manned by roughly 20 solemn officers. The only passage through the line was by the occasional ambulance. Despite the disappointment of the mass media, the mood was more calm than confused.
Behind the stoic officers and the disappointed media were a handful of visa applicants clutching folders and FedEx envelopes, many not even aware of why their appointments had been canceled. Some applicants had been stuck there since the attack, unable to get to their cars after the arriving police and media had double-parked.
Enis Yılmaz, 27, sales representative for the night club Laila, had been parking his car no more than 50 meters from the scene when he heard the gun shots. He identified the shots as coming from pistols, not from assault rifles, though one other witness added that the assailants had also used a shotgun.
Yılmaz had arrived at the consulate for his visa appointment, as had Ulus Durgut, 24, a student, who was a few dozen meters from the police post when it was attacked. Both men said the clash had lasted around 15 minutes.
When they went up to the gate after the gunfire had ended, they said they had noticed four dead bodies � three bearded assailants and one police officer. One of the assailants had tried to go around the bulletproof police post and had been shot dead near the door in the back. The arriving paramedics had to leave the deceased, as four other police officers were wounded and needed immediate medical attention.
Seeing other civilians around the gate in a state of shock, Durgut said one man from the shop next to the consulate was "white as a sheet." Unable to enter the consulate, Yılmaz and Durgut had called the office and were given appointments for July 11. They were at the scene long before the police and media had arrived, and had waited outside the front gate till 12:30 p.m., when the police chief finally arrived. They were stuck behind the police line, desperately hoping for someone to come and remove their double-parked car while the rest of the crowd dissipated, frustrated at not getting any answers.