Turkish neighborhood heads given firearms training by police at shooting range

A group of neighborhood heads (mukhtars) have been given firearms training with Kalashnikovs and handguns at a shooting range in the northwestern province of Bursa, according to a report by the Doğan news agency.

Some 30 Bursa mukhtars met with Bursa Police Chief Osman Ak at the shooting range of the Police Special Operations Department on Saturday. The event was part of “Police Week,” which is marked April 1-10 every year in Turkey.

Following a brief training session by Ak and department instructors, the mukhtars shot at targets using their own handguns or Kalashnikovs provided by the police department. During their practice, the mukhtars had their photos taken and video footage was recorded.

April 10 is marked every year as “Police Day” in Turkey, and between April 1 and April 10 various activities are held throughout the country to promote the Turkish police’s work and “bring the police organization together with civilians.”

Article 121 of Decree Law No. 696 issued by the Turkish government in late December had been interpreted as a “licence to kill” for radical Islamist and neo-nationalist pro-government circles. The article reads: “Regardless of their official duties, or appointments, any individuals who took part in suppressing the attempted coup d’état on July 15, 2016, terror acts, and other acts which are considered to be a continuation of these, will be subject to the first clause [on immunity].”

Following this controversial decree the posts shared on social media by radical Islamist and nationalist pro-Erdoğan fanatics showed that the decree has encouraged them to mobilise and to arm themselves. According to a report by Turkey’s General Directorate of Security in 2017, there were 25 million weapons in total in Turkey even though only 750,000 of them are registered.

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