Intelligence agency warns of ISIL attacks in five Turkish provinces

Intelligence agency warns of ISIL attacks in five Turkish provinces

Intelligence agency warns of ISIL attacks in five Turkish provinces

AP photo

The National Intelligence Agency (MİT) has issued warnings against imminent attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in five Turkish provinces. 

MİT sent a warning to all 81 provinces of Turkey, saying jihadists could launch attacks in Istanbul, the southeastern province of Gaziantep, Ankara, the southern province of Antalya and the western province of İzmir. 

According to the MİT report, public transport is among ISIL militants’ targets, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Oct. 18. The warning dated Oct. 12 and coded “urgent” said the aforementioned five provinces were among the high-risk areas. 

In the report, the intelligence agency warned the militants could perpetrate an attack on the Eurasia Tunnel, a roadway tunnel that will connect Istanbul’s European and Asian sides that is scheduled to open in December. 

“The organization is seeking an attack targeting the Turkish aviation sector. Intelligence information was received on militants planning to sneak explosives or sharp objects such as knives and razors onto airplanes hidden inside electronic devices,” the notice sent to the police read. “The danger of attacks has increased in the recent days.”

Metros, buses, bridges, airports, bus terminals and sea transport were listed among the ISIL targets in the notice.

Three police officers were killed and eight others were wounded on Oct. 16 in an explosion that occurred when a suspected ISIL militant detonated himself during a house raid in Gaziantep’s Şahinbey district, while another suspect also detonated himself during a separate operation in the province.

The raid came after the Gaziantep police received information about a cell that was suspected of plotting a suicide bomb attack on an Alevi cultural association center in the city. Arriving at the Güneykent neighborhood of Şahinbey and closing the entrances and exits to the area, police entered the cell house. After seeing the police, a militant inside the house reportedly detonated himself.

Meanwhile, authorities in Ankara have banned public meetings and marches until the end of November after receiving intelligence that militants were planning attacks in the city, which has been targeted with bombings over the past year.

The ruling announced by the Ankara Governor’s Office came as Turkey continued to conduct an almost a two-month-old military operation in Syria supporting rebels to push ISIL militants away from its southern border.

ISIL and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants have previously conducted attacks in the capital. This month, two suspected PKK militants believed to be planning a car bomb attack blew themselves up in a standoff with the police in Ankara.

“Based on intelligence received by our governor’s office, it has gathered that illegal terror groups are aiming to carry out attacks in our province and have made some preparations,” the governor’s office said in a statement on its website.

The statement said there were fears that public meetings and protests in the Ankara were being targeted by militants.

The ban was set to remain in place until Nov. 30 under a state of emergency decree law, which was imposed after the failed coup attempt of July 15, believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

Last year, over 100 people were killed in an ISIL suicide bomb attack that targeted a peace and labor rally.

PKK militants were blamed in March for a car bomb which exploded in a transport hub in Ankara, killing at least 34 people in the second such attack in under a month.