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Bootleg raki kills eight in Istanbul

Seven people arrested on suspicion of manufacturing the lethal alcohol which has left another 19 people critically ill
People sit at terrace cafes and bars near Taksim Square in Istanbul on June 29, 2014 (AFP)
Eight people have died in the past four days and another 19 are in critical condition in hospital after drinking bootleg alcohol in Istanbul, Turkish media reports said on Thursday.
 
The victims had all consumed raki, a strong aniseed-flavoured spirit, which health authorities believe had been infused with lethal quantities of methyl alcohol.
 
Hurriyet newspaper said police have arrested seven people suspected of making the bootleg spirit.
 
In 2005, 22 people died in Turkey from drinking illicit raki. 
 
Distributors at the time blamed successive tax hikes on alcohol, which critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan say are part of a bid by the former Istanbul mayor to impose conservative Islamic restrictions on society.