Turkish police on Sunday detained hundreds of suspected members of the Islamic State extremist group in nationwide raids, just over a month after an attack on an Istanbul nightclub claimed by the extremists.
Among around 400 detained in the biggest operation so far against IS after the New Year attack were foreigners and those suspected of planning attacks in Turkey, the Dogan and Anadolu news agencies reported.
“The operation around the country saw 150 suspects detained in Sanliurfa in the south-east and 47 in the nearby city of Gaziantep close to the Syrian border which has a known jihadist presence,” Dogan said.
60 suspects, mostly foreigners, were detained in four districts in the capital Ankara.
Dozens of more arrests were made in provinces ranging from Bursa in the west to Bingol in the east.
“In the usually peaceful Aegean city of Izmir, nine people suspected of travelling to and from Syria and planning attacks in the city were detained,” Anadolu said.
18 people were detained in Istanbul and the neighbouring province of Kocaeli on suspicion of planning attacks. Another 14 foreigners were due to be deported, including 10 children.
39 people were killed, mainly foreigners, on New Year’s night when a gunman went on the rampage inside a plush Istanbul nightclub.
IS claimed the massacre, its first clear claim for a major attack in Turkey although it had been blamed for several bombings in 2016.
Police detained the suspected attacker, Abdulgadir Masharipov, an Uzbek national, on Jan 16 after over two weeks on the run and authorities say he has confessed to the massacre.
The Hurriyet daily reported after the attack that IS also planned a simultaneous New Year’s strike in Ankara but dropped the plot after arrests by the Turkish authorities.
Turkey was in 2016 shaken by a string of attacks blamed on IS and Kurdish militants that left hundreds dead.
It is also engaged in a battle with IS to take the Syrian town of Al-Bab, in the fiercest fighting yet of the Turkish military s campaign inside Syria that started in August.