Leith designer tells of Turkey terror

Cigdem Ozluk, from Leith, endured a terrifying five-hour journey to safety across Istanbul as tanks and soldiers fired into the crowds during the attempted coup.

Sunday, 17th July 2016, 11:17 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 4:42 pm

The 25-year-old interior designer had flown to the Turkish capital from Edinburgh on Friday night to spend a fortnight visiting her family.

On arrival, she discovered that the airport had been plunged into chaos, which she initially believed was due to the recent terrorist attack in Nice.

Speaking from Istanbul, Ozluk said: “I tried to go through passport control but it was absolute 

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“There were so many people and so few members of the security services.

“I managed to get through and get out of there around 11.30pm, where my cousin, uncle and aunt were waiting for me to take me home.

“The officials were saying we had to get out – that the airport was going to get closed down.”

As the family drove towards the bridge over to the Anatolian side of Istanbul, which would take them to their home in the Ataşehir suburb, they were stunned to see tanks firing openly into the air and at people on the streets.

Ozluk, who grew up in Glasgow and is of Kurdish descent, said: “We could see the soldiers and tanks just aiming at crowds.

“We were absolutely stuck, there was nowhere we could go.

“The prime minister had told all his supporters to come out on to the streets. It was very dangerous.

“Somehow we ended up right in front of the tanks. The soldiers were waving their guns at us, saying ‘Get out of the way.’

“We were rushing to get out but we were stuck right in the middle of these two very extreme groups of people.

“At one point they started firing and everyone started sprinting in different directions.

“The atmosphere was just ridiculous. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.

“You couldn’t keep your head up as you just didn’t know what would happen.

“Any of those bullets could have hit anyone.”

The family left their car to try to find food and safety, but they were forced to shelter in a restaurant as low-flying jets zoomed over their heads.

Ozluk, a former Edinburgh Napier University student, said: “There was this rumbling sound, like when a bomb is about to go off, so we ran for our lives. But it was the army planes in the air flying really low over the crowds.

“It was so loud. They were trying hard to scare us.”

After more than five hours, Ozluk eventually made it home to safety at about 4am.

Yesterday morning the streets of the neighbourhood were littered with debris and burnt wreckage as the city tried to come to terms with what had happened, she said.

Rumours of beheadings, torture and rising death tolls abounded as everyone remained indoors to shelter from the hot weather and the tensions on the streets.

Ozluk said: “I have never experienced anything like this.

“I can’t believe these things are happening here, in my country.”

Last night Ozluk said the family were warned not to go outside on to the streets for fear of further violence.

When the situation has calmed down, she hopes to move to her aunt’s house near Tekirdağ, which lies 95 miles along the coast to the west of Istanbul.