Armed policeman creates Istanbul panic amid 'hostages' report

An armed police officer receiving psychiatric treatment has barricaded himself into a room at an Istanbul hospital and attempted to commit suicide, causing panic, a hospital official said.

Earlier, Turkish media reports claimed the man had taken doctors and other staff hostage at Cerrahpasa hospital in the city

Zekayi Kutlubay, the hospital's chief doctor, said all staff has been evacuated from the psychiatry unit and the police officer was alone.

He said police negotiators are trying to persuade the man not to kill himself

"He is alone in the room," Mr Kutlubay told reporters outside of the hospital. "There is no hostage crisis ... God willing, we will convince him."

Mr Kutlubay said the officer had been receiving psychiatric treatment for the past two years and the police force had confiscated his gun.

"The gun is not his, but unfortunately he has a gun with him," the doctor said.

Turkey is on edge following a spate of deadly attacks, including an armed assault at an Istanbul nightclub during a New Year's celebration that killed 39 people.

- AP

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