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Turkish Police Chief Killed

January 24, 2001

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AP) _ Assailants opened fire on a car carrying the police chief of Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast, killing him and five other policemen, the prime minister said.

Four other police officers were injured in the attack, private television NTV reported.

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said it was unclear who carried out the attack that killed Police Chief Gaffar Okkan and five other officers.

There was no claim of responsibility. Okkan had received death threats from Hezbollah, a pro-Islamic Kurdish militant group, NTV said.

The assailants opened fire on Okkan’s car about a mile from Diyarbakir’s police headquarters. All the car’s windows were shattered in the attack.

Police were searching the area for suspects. The Anatolia news agency said one of the assailants was apparently injured in a shootout after the attack.

Okkan spearheaded a crackdown against Hezbollah last year in which hundreds of the group’s members were arrested. Scores of bodies of presumed victims of the group were found in dungeons throughout Turkey.

Hezbollah _ which is not related to the group in Lebanon with the same name _ previously has mainly targeted its opponents, including members of the Kurdistan Workers Party.

Kurdish rebels, who declared a cease-fire last year after fighting for 15 years for autonomy in the southeast, remain active the region.

Update hourly