Turkey detains dozens of IS suspects ahead of New Year: state media


Istanbul (AFP)

Turkish authorities on Friday rounded up 75 people in Istanbul and Ankara suspected of links to the Islamic State extremist group, state media said, ahead of high security celebrations to mark the New Year.

Turkey will see in the New Year under the shadow of the one-year anniversary of the gun attack on Istanbul's elite Reina nightclub that claimed 39 lives, mainly foreigners.

In Istanbul, police detained 46 people -- 43 of them foreigners -- in 10 different areas of the city, the state run Anadolu news agency said.

Without giving any details, it said they are suspected of planning attacks over the New Year period.

In Ankara, 500 police launched an operation to arrest 46 suspects, 29 of whom were ultimately detained.

Without giving numbers, it said most were foreigners. It said that some were suspected of carrying out reconnaissance for and planning New Year attacks.

One suspect sought to escape by jumping from the balcony but was detained, it said.

Turkish police have stepped up operations against suspected IS jihadists ahead of the New Year.

Anadolu said that even before the latest arrests, a total of 120 IS suspects had been detained in operations nationwide.

Istanbul's governor Vasip Shain said Thursday 37,000 police and 4,000 members of the gendarmerie and coastguard would be deployed on the night of December 31-January 1 in the city to ensure security.

The authorities have banned any New Year celebrations in Taksim Square in the heart of the European side of the city while a similar measure has been imposed for the lively district of Besiktas.

The district of Sisli -- home to Istanbul's most upmarket shopping and residential areas -- has also scrapped New Year celebrations on security grounds.

The Reina massacre was carried out by a single gunman, Uzbek citizen Abdulkadir Masharipov, who confessed to acting on behalf of IS.

Masharipov escaped the scene but was then captured after a 17-day manhunt and went on trial on December 11.

Since the attack, Turkish security forces have stepped up arrests of suspected jihadists, possibly using intelligence that came from capturing Masharipov alive.

Of the 39 people killed in the Reina attack -- which took place just 75 minutes into 2017 -- 27 were foreigners, including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco.