Turkish police round up scores of Daesh suspects on New Year's Eve

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 29.12.2017 20:52
Updated 29.12.2017 20:56

In operations on Friday, Turkish security forces captured 77 suspects including some plotting to carry out attacks during New Year's Eve celebrations. The suspects were detained in raids in the early hours of the day in the capital Ankara, Istanbul and the southwestern city of Muğla. Most of the suspects were foreigners. The operations were part of an increased crackdown on the terrorist group that is believed to have fled Syria and Iraq after losing ground in those countries. In the capital Ankara, 500 police officers raided several buildings to capture 46 suspects with outstanding arrest warrants. Twenty-nine suspects were captured in safe houses. Most of them were foreigners but the authorities did not disclose their nationalities.

Over the past week, many Syrian and Iraqi nationals were captured in anti-Daesh operations across the country. The police found evidence that those captured in the Ankara operation scouted places where they could carry out attacks. A suspect tried to flee in an operation in the Mamak district by jumping off the balcony but the police later captured him. Searching the suspects' properties, the police found propaganda documents and digital content for propaganda of the terrorist group.

Ankara Governor Ercan Topaca told reporters that the suspects have been under surveillance by the police for a while for a possibility of carrying out attacks.

In Istanbul, 46 suspects including 43 foreigners were captured in operations in 10 districts in the city. Like those in Ankara, they were planning attacks during New Year's Eve celebrations, the police said. Media outlets reported that some of the suspects were involved in theft and smuggling for the purpose of financing the terrorist group's activities and some were recruiting new militants for the group. The foreigners, whose nationalities were not disclosed, will be deported while three Turkish suspects were being interrogated when Daily Sabah went to print. Istanbul has been the scene of several major terror attacks by Daesh. During 2017 New Year's Eve celebrations, a Daesh gunman stormed a popular nightclub on the Bosporus shore and gunned down 39 people. He and his aides are currently on trial. This year, the authorities in Istanbul have stepped up security measures and banned large-scale outdoor celebrations in popular spots including Taksim Square, Şişli and Beşiktaş on New Year's Eve.

On Friday, the police announced that trucks will be banned from traffic in those districts between the early hours of Sunday and Monday morning. Vasip Şahin, the city's governor, told reporters Thursday that they would deploy 37,000 police officers that day across the city while 4,000 gendarmerie officers will be on duty in remote parts of the city. "We took serious measures for a safe and peaceful new year for our citizens. Almost every security personnel in the city will be working Sunday," the governor said. Şahin said they would take extra measures at venues popular among revelers. "We warned nightclubs to become more cautious and police patrols will be deployed near these places as well so that people can celebrate the new year in the best way possible," he said.

In the southwestern city of Muğla, which lies on the Aegean shore, the police captured two Syrian Daesh suspects. Media outlets said the duo were brothers and were working in a factory in the city's Yatağan district. Although tourist numbers decline in winter, Muğla is a popular location among holidaymakers from all around the world with its pristine beaches. Recently, police nabbed PKK militants planning attacks in the city. Turkey's popular resort towns are largely spared from terror attacks though big cities like Ankara and Istanbul have been the victims of attacks by Daesh and the PKK in the past two years.

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