1983 Turkish embassy attack in Lisbon

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1983 Turkish embassy attack in Lisbon
Location Lisbon, Portugal
Coordinates 38°42′26″N 9°12′56″W / 38.70732°N 9.21562°W / 38.70732; -9.21562Coordinates: 38°42′26″N 9°12′56″W / 38.70732°N 9.21562°W / 38.70732; -9.21562
Date 27 July 1983
10:30 a.m. (WEST)
Target Turkish Embassy
Attack type
Bombing
Weapons Submachine gun, plastic explosives
Deaths 7 - Wife of the embassy's chargé d'affaires, one Portuguese policeman and five militants
Non-fatal injuries
2 - Son of the embassy's chargé d'affaires and one Portuguese policeman
Perpetrators 5 Armenian Revolutionary Army militans
Defenders One Turkish bodyguard, one Portuguese policeman and some 170 Portuguese riot policemen

The 1983 Turkish embassy attack was an attack on the Turkish embassy in Lisbon on 27 July 1983, which resulted in the death of 7 people, including all 5 attackers. The impetus for the incident was to bring light to the Turkish government's denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Background[edit]

Witnesses said the gunmen arrived at about 10:30 a.m. in two Ford Escorts, a red one that remained out front and a white one that entered the driveway. The car aroused the suspicions of a Portuguese security guard because it had been there the day before. On that occasion, two men who arrived in the car were challenged by the Ambassador's bodyguard. They said they had come for visas, but when asked to produce their passports, they left hurriedly.[1]

Because of this incident, the Turkish Embassy requested extra police protection from the Portuguese authorities, and one additional policeman was stationed on the road outside of the embassy on the day of the attack.

Attack[edit]

The Turkish bodyguard was alerted by the Portuguese policeman when the white car returned the next day. When the policeman approached it, an armed man opened fire with a submachine-gun, wounding the policeman, but the attacker was in turn shot dead by the Turkish bodyguard.

As Portuguese police hurried toward the scene, four other intruders, failing to gain entry to the embassy building, raced into the adjacent ambassador's residence and seized its only occupants, Cahide Mihçioĝlu, 42, the wife of the embassy's chargé d'affaires, and her son Atasay, 17. The gunmen held the hostages in a room around which they planted plastic explosives.[2] They threatened to blow up the building if the police tried to storm it.

A force of some 170 riot policemen surrounded the building, cordoning off the area and hiding behind cars and trees to avoid sporadic gunfire from within the embassy compound. The Portuguese Cabinet under the Prime Minister Mário Soares went into an emergency session during the siege and decided to use for the first time the newly formed, British SAS-trained elite police detachment, the GOE (Grupo de Operações Especiais).

However, before the special forces could start the operation, the militants detonated a bomb, setting the building ablaze. When anti-terrorist police stormed the building, they met no resistance and found six burned corpses. The dead included 4 militants, the Turkish diplomat's wife, and a Portuguese policeman, identified as Manuel Pacheco.

Officials suggested that unforeseen developments may have led the assailants to fear a major police intervention was imminent and caused them to prematurely detonate their explosives.

It turned out that the dead policeman, Pacheco, was familiar with the embassy. He had rushed to the scene after hearing about the attack over the radio and climbed into the room where the gunmen were holding hostages. He was killed in the explosion. Around the same time, one of the hostages, 17-year old Atasay, jumped through the first-floor window of the residence, but was wounded in the leg by militants[clarification needed] as he fled.[3] Escape of the hostage and interference of Pacheco might have prompted the gunmen to detonate the explosives.

The Portuguese Interior Minister Eduardo Pereira said that "the terrorists clearly planned to occupy the embassy for a number of days, seizing a large number of hostages in order to make a major impact on public opinion."[3] Police officials revealed that the two cars were filled with food and explosives, suggesting that the gunmen were prepared for a long siege.

Aftermath[edit]

The Armenian Revolutionary Army claimed responsibility for attack.[4] A type-written message signed by the Armenian Revolutionary Army delivered to The Associated Press office in Lisbon said: "We have decided to blow up this building and remain under the collapse. This is not suicide, nor an expression of insanity, but rather our sacrifice to the altar of freedom."[1] The group said the attack had been carried out because "Turkey and its allies refused to acknowledge the genocide of Armenians".[5]

The militants entered the country through Lisbon Airport as tourists bearing Lebanese passports. They reserved hotel rooms from a public telex in Beirut and rented three cars in Lisbon. From the documents found in the hotel rooms, the police identified the five as Setrak Ajamian, 19 years old; Ara Kuhrjulian, 20; Sarkis Abrahamian, 21; Simon Yahniyan, 21, and Vache Daghlian, 19[6][7] (known in Armenian sources as "The Lisbon five"). They were buried in Beirut at the Armenian national cemetery in Bourj Hammoud.

Commemoration[edit]

The attack on the Turkish embassy in Lisbon is commemorated by Armenians and Turks around the world.

Every year the Armenian community in Lebanon holds memorial services to commemorate the deaths of the 5 militants.[8][9] The Armenian community of Glendale, California held a vigil at a local church to "commemorate and honor the sacrifice" of the five militants.[10] The Armenian-American newspaper Asbarez in its editorial referred to the militants as "freedom fighters and the heroes".[11]

The Turkish embassy in Lisbon held a meeting to commemorate the deaths of the wife of the Turkish diplomat and the Portuguese policeman who died in the attack.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The New York Times, July 28, 1983. 7 dead in Lisbon in Armenian raid
  2. ^ Time magazine, August 08, 1983. Long Memories.
  3. ^ a b The Associated Press, July 28, 1983. Terrorists Planned Long Siege.
  4. ^ The New York Times, July 31, 1983. A New Armenian Death Mission.
  5. ^ "Herald Tribune", Paris, July 28, 1983. Five Armenians Die in Suicide Raid in Lisbon.
  6. ^ The New York Times, July 31, 1983. Armenian attack unsettles Lisbon
  7. ^ The Associated Press, July 28, 1983. Portuguese Suspected Armenian Terror Attack.
  8. ^ Asbarez. Community Remembers Sacrifice of Lisbon 5
  9. ^ Asbarez. Lisbon 5 Commemoration and Ceremony for the Repose of Souls Held in Lebanon
  10. ^ "Community Remembers Sacrifice of Lisbon 5". Asbarez Armenian News. August 1, 2008. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "Remembering the Heroes of Lisbon 5". Asbarez Armenian News. July 26, 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Speeches, 18 March Martyr's day, 18.03.2011". Turkish Embassy Lisboa Portugal. Retrieved 4 September 2013.