ISIL bomber killed in operation ‘targeted Republic rally’ in Ankara
AA photoTurkish police on Oct. 19 fatally shot an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant who was believed to be planning a suicide bomb attack in the capital.
The man was killed in a raid on a ninth-floor apartment in the Eryaman neighborhood on the province’s outskirts after he ignored warnings to surrender and opened fire on police, Ankara Gov. Ercan Topaca said.
The state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Topaca as saying the man was believed to be planning a suicide attack in the city – either targeting large gatherings or to coincide with two national ceremonies in the coming weeks. Police found explosive materials including sticks of dynamite and ammonium nitrate at the scene, the governor said.
“There is no doubt that the target was congregations of crowded people,” Topaca told the agency, adding that the police believed the man to be an ISIL group member.
“It could have been the mausoleum or the old parliament, it is not possible to say anything concrete based on the information available,” he said.
The suspect may have been targeting ceremonies to be held on the Oct. 29 anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic or on Nov. 10, the commemoration of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s death, Anadolu Agency quoted Topaca.
The suspect, identified as 24-year-old Ahmet Balık from the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, returned fire when the police urged him to “surrender,” according to Anadolu Agency.
He was tracked by the police after being seen engaging in suspicious behavior three times around Anıtkabir.
The raid came two days after Ankara regional authorities banned all public gatherings and demonstrations throughout November after receiving information about potential terrorist attacks.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told reporters that the man was spotted scouting Turkey’s old parliament building as well as Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, where ceremonies are scheduled to take place. He told reporters in Ankara that operations targeting militants would continue in the near future.
“The Daesh militant was rendered ineffective following very important tracking and intelligence work,” Soylu said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIL. “These operations are continuing.”
Meanwhile, photos of Balık investigating the aforementioned areas have emerged. The photos show Balık in Anıtkabir and Turkey’s former parliament building.
In a separate development, police raided several stores selling religious books in Diyarbakır, a security source said on condition of anonymity. At least 20 suspects were also detained during the anti-ISIL operation, the source told AFP.
Turkey has been rocked by a series of deadly suicide bombings over the past 18 months that were carried out by ISIL and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.
On Oct. 16, an ISIL suicide bomber blew himself up during an anti-terror operation in the province of Gaziantep near the Syrian border, killing three police officers.
The Gaziantep Governor’s Office said on Oct. 18 it would also ban public gatherings and demonstrations until the end of the month.