ISIL suicide bombers targeted Alevis, HDP events in Gaziantep: Interior Ministry

ISIL suicide bombers targeted Alevis, HDP events in Gaziantep: Interior Ministry

ISIL suicide bombers targeted Alevis, HDP events in Gaziantep: Interior Ministry

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Two Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide bombers, who were killed during two separate police raids in the border province of Gaziantep on Oct. 16, were planning to stage simultaneous armed and suicide attacks, particularly targeting events organized by Alevis and the provincial headquarters of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the Interior Ministry has announced.

“As a result of works on the issue, an operation was conducted at an address in the Güneykent neighborhood of Şahinbey district on Oct. 16 at around 12:32 p.m. Three special operations police were martyred and five special operations police and four Syrian citizens were wounded after an organization member detonated himself. One terrorist was also captured alive,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Oct. 16.

The statement added that militant Mehmet Kadir Cebael, who was the reported Gaziantep provincial leader of the jihadist group before being killed in the second raid, had been on the ministry’s terror list in the orange category.

“During the ongoing process, Mehmet Kadir Cebael, who was born in 1986 in Gaziantep and was sought for intelligence over a suicide bomb attack, detonated a bomb placed at the entrance of the residence and was captured dead after the armed conflict,” the statement read.

According to the ministry, Cebael’s wife Fadile Cebael, who was caught with her two children during the operation, had also been sought as a missing terror suspect, while another suspect linked to the organization was also detained.

Doğan News Agency reported that Cebael had been appointed as the Gaziantep provincial leader of the organization after Ercan Çapkın was arrested in April and that he was among the suspects mentioned in the indictment over the Ankara suicide bomb attack which claimed 102 lives on Oct. 10, 2015.

The agency said Cebael was also the brother of Yusuf Cebael, who was arrested on Oct. 30, 2015, in Gaziantep while he was on his way to stage bomb attacks at the HDP Istanbul provincial headquarters and the Ankara bureau of daily Cumhuriyet.

The ministry had also put a bounty of 600,000 Turkish Liras on Cebael, the agency reported.

In addition, the head of the Alevi Cultural Associations Gaziantep branch, Yılmaz Demirdelen, said in a written statement that security forces had been taking measures for about a month near the cemevi, an Alevi house of worship, following intelligence of potential attacks.

Demirdelen noted that the association had decreased the number of events organized by Alevis until the militants were caught.

The Oct. 16 police raids in Gaziantep came about a month after security forces in the province detained an ISIL militant who possessed pictures of a cemevi.

On Sept. 21, the U.S. Department of State had issued a warning over potential attacks in the province targeting Western businesses. Two days after the warning, a suicide bomb attack plot targeting Friday prayers at the central Ulu Cami was revealed.

During the first raid conducted in the Beşyüzevler neighborhood, one ISIL militant detonated himself, killing police officers İlhan Güleç, Yaşar Polat and Hüseyin Cengiz and wounding nine others, including four civilians.

Meanwhile, Cebael was killed in the second raid which came hours after the first raid at his residence in the Burak neighborhood.