Police search vehicles, airport, public spaces in Istanbul ahead of new year
Law enforcement officials have carried out a comprehensive security operation in Istanbul’s 39 counties as part of security measures taken by Turkish police ahead of New Year’s Eve, Doğan News Agency reported on Dec. 27.
Nearly 1,200 police officers have inspected suspicious personal vehicles and pedestrians as well as airports, popular public spots and piers as part of the security operation called “Wolf Trap 13.”
Police officers have carried out criminal record checks (GBT) on citizens who have been subjected to inspections.
The inspections have been conducted in 100,000 different locations, with support for ground forces from police choppers above, the agency reported.
The security operation has been carried out by various law enforcement departments, including special operations units, narcotics units, the seaport authority and police stations at Istanbul’s Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen International Airports.
Detection dogs had also joined the inspections at the Istanbul Atatürk International Airport, the agency reported.
As part of security measures taken ahead of New Year’s Eve, Istanbul’s Şişli Municipality also banned celebrations in public spaces on Dec. 27.
“The New Year’s event that was planned to last four days [Dec. 28, 29, 30, 31] was canceled. Upon the district governor’s request to shorten the program, the Şişli Municipality decided to cancel the celebrations as a whole,” a written statement released by the municipality read.
On Dec. 25, the Beşiktaş Municipality said New Year’s Eve activities planned to be held at Barbaros Square in Besiktaş would not be allowed due to security concerns and the area’s limited capacity.
Security measures in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, including in the central Taksim Square area, have also been doubled up in preparation for New Year’s Eve on the first anniversary of the bloody attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub.
“Measures for the New Year will be at the highest level,” Beyoğlu district police chief İsmail Kılıç said on Dec. 20 in a meeting in Istanbul, quoted by state-run Anadolu Agency.
Celebratory gatherings will not be permitted in Taksim Square this year, while precautions will be taken at the entrances of Cihangir, Karaköy, Tarlabaşı and Talimhane, all popular hang-out destinations in the Beyoğlu district.
“Celebrations will not take place so people will be able to enter the new year peacefully,” Kılıç added.
Security measures have been tightened this year after at least 39 people, including a police officer, were killed and 79 people were injured when 34-year-old Uzbek citizen Abdulkadir Masharipov opened fire on revelers at the Reina nightclub in the Ortaköy neighborhood in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2017.
Of the 39 killed, 27 were foreigners including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco, who had gone to the club to celebrate the new year.