Turkish police detain 63 ISIL suspects in three days before Istanbul attack
Fevzi Kızılkoyun – ANKARA
AA photoThe National Intelligence Agency (MİT) received intelligence on possible New Year’s Eve attacks planned by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Dec. 19 and conducted operations against ISIL suspects between Dec. 28 and 31.
An ISIL militant staged an armed attack on a famous upscale Istanbul nightclub Reina in the early hours of Jan. 1, killing 39 people and injuring 65 others.
The intelligence indicated that ISIL was planning to stage bomb, suicide bomb or armed attacks on nightclubs, celebration spots and crowded places in the capital Ankara, Istanbul, and the southern provinces of Adana, Antalya and Mersin.
Operations were carried out in Istanbul, Ankara, the western province of İzmir, the southeastern province of Adıyaman, and the southern provinces of Hatay, Adana and Mersin, and a total of 63 ISIL militants were detained. Most of the detained militants were from foreign countries, according to the police report.
According to intelligence gathered, the militant who carried out the attack could be from the same ISIL cell that attacked Atatürk Airport on July 28, 2016, claiming a total of 45 lives.
Meanwhile, a total of 147 ISIL suspects have been detained in operations across Turkey over the past week, the Interior Ministry stated on Dec. 2, one day after a gunman of the jihadist group staged an attack targeting New Year’s revelers at a popular nightclub in Istanbul.
During security forces’ operations targeting ISIL militants conducted between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, some 25 of the detained 147 were later arrested for their links to the jihadist group, the ministry said in a statement.
On Jan. 1, a gunman opened fire on New Year revelers at the Reina nightclub on the shores of Istanbul’s Bosporus, killing at least 39 people, including 25 foreigners, and wounding 65 before fleeing the scene.
The jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement on Jan. 2.