Fake bomb man arrested near Turkish PM's office

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 November, 2013, 3:38am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 November, 2013, 3:38am

Turkish police arrested a "mentally unstable" man carrying a fake bomb outside the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday, officials said.

Local television stations had initially reported that the suspect was shot and wounded by police but officials and witnesses later said they wrestled him to the ground and only fired shots in the air.

"This individual was carrying a device resembling a bomb but in fact it was not one," Interior Minister Muammer Guler said, describing the man as "mentally unstable". The suspect was taken to a police station where he was interrogated about the incident.

Erdogan was at the headquarters of his ruling Justice and Development Party at the time and not in his office. Security was boosted in the area, and a police helicopter was seen hovering over the building.

Police identified the man as Tugrul Bayir, born in 1961, but gave no further information.

Guler said the man made an anonymous call to police tipping them off about plans for a suicide bombing before arriving on the scene five minutes later.

"He had cables around his waist that looked like an explosive device," Guler said. "We believe that he had psychological problems."

Private NTV television, quoting unidentified officials, said the man had credit card debts and wanted to draw attention to his plight.

Initial news reports had said police had shot and wounded a suspected suicide bomber.

However one witness said: "Security guards fired five or six times into the air. They didn't shoot him."

The witness said the suspect was wearing a corset around his waist carrying some type of cement with cables attached as well as a black box.

Erdogan, who has been prime minister for 11 years but has become an increasingly polarising figure in Turkey, was due to leave for a visit to Moscow.

In February this year, a Turkish security guard was killed and several people injured in a suicide bombing outside the highly-fortified US embassy in Ankara.

The attack was claimed by radical Marxist group the Revolutionary People's Liberation Front.

Additional reporting by Associated Press