Turkey detains 20 ISIS suspects in Antalya ahead of G20 summit

Signs with the names of victims of the double suicide bombing blamed on IS militants in Ankara, Oct 26.
Signs with the names of victims of the double suicide bombing blamed on IS militants in Ankara, Oct 26.PHOTO: AFP

ANKARA (AFP) - Turkish police have detained 20 suspects from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya, barely 10 days ahead of a G20 summit being attended by world leaders, local media reported on Friday (Nov 6).

Turkey has been on the hunt for ISIS extremists since twin bombings on a peace rally in Ankara on Oct 10 that killed 102 people and wounded around 500, the worst such attack in the country's history.

US President Barack Obama is among G20 leaders who will be at the summit in Antalya on Nov 15-16 where the war in Syria is certain to be high on the agenda.

There was no further information about the Antalya raids and no immediate comment from the prime minister's office.

Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu had said this week that Ankara was planning further military action against the militants, without saying how or where.

"We have plans to act militarily against them in the coming days," he said on Wednesday in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil, describing the ISIS group as a "clear and present threat".

Foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said on Thursday that Sinirlioglu did not specifically use the expression "ground operation," but added: "All options could be on the agenda."

The ISIS has been blamed for three attacks in Turkey since June when two people were killed at a rally staged by the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir just days before a parliamentary election.

Long criticised by its Western allies for not doing enough to stem the rise of the extremist jihadist group, Turkey first launched air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria after a deadly bombing on a border town in July.

But most of the firepower was concentrated on Kurdish fighters based in northern Iraq, rupturing a 2013 truce between Ankara and the rebels.

Police have also rounded up dozens of ISIS suspects in recent weeks in raids across the country.

Turkish prosecutors said after the Ankara bombing that a sleeper cell acting on orders from the militants in Syria carried out the massive attacks in order to disrupt Sunday's election, the second in five months.

There were also fears that a cell was plotting another major atrocity, such as hijacking a plane or a vessel.

The latest crackdown comes after Sunday's election which saw President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) regain the parliamentary majority it lost in June.

Erdogan has vowed to press ahead with operations against all "terrorists" including the ISIS and the outlawed rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).