Turkey detains some 400 ISIS suspects in nationwide raids

Turkish police detains some 400 suspected Islamic State members in anti-terror raids carried out in six provinces, state run Anadolu agency reports.

Swoop comes just over a month after New Year's Day attack on Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people

ISTANBUL • Turkish police have detained hundreds of suspected members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in nationwide raids, just over a month after an attack on an Istanbul nightclub claimed by the extremists.

More than 400 suspects were yesterday rounded up in Turkey's biggest police operation so far against ISIS since the New Year attack on the Reina nightclub just 75 minutes into 2017 that killed 39.

Those detained included foreigners and people suspected of planning attacks in Turkey, the Dogan and Anadolu news agencies reported. Anadolu said that, according to the latest figure, 423 suspects had been detained so far.

The operation around the country saw 150 suspects rounded up in Sanliurfa in the south-east and 47 in the nearby city of Gaziantep close to the Syrian border which has a known Islamist presence, Dogan said.

Sixty suspects, mostly foreigners, were detained in four districts in the capital Ankara.

Dozens 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.

One of the suspects detained in Izmir - a Syrian identified only as E.A. - is said to have been in touch with people smugglers in a bid to help the ISIS members escape to Europe, Anadolu said.

Eighteen people were detained in Istanbul and the neighbouring province of Kocaeli on suspicion of planning attacks. Another 14 foreigners, including 10 children, were due to be deported.

Thirty-nine people, mainly foreigners, were killed in the New Year attack when a gunman went on the rampage inside a plush Istanbul nightclub.

ISIS claimed the massacre, its first clear claim for a major attack in Turkey although it had been blamed for several bombings last year.

Police detained the suspected attacker, Abdulgadir Masharipov, an Uzbek national, on Jan 16 after he had been on the run for more than two weeks and the authorities say he has confessed to the massacre.

The Hurriyet daily reported after the attack that ISIS also planned a simultaneous New Year strike in Ankara but dropped the plot after arrests by the Turkish authorities.

An Istanbul court last Friday placed a dozen people under arrest ahead of a trial over the nightclub plot, including Masharipov's wife, Zarina Nurullayeva.

Last year, Turkey was shaken by a string of attacks blamed on ISIS and Kurdish militants that left hundreds dead.

It is also engaged in a battle with ISIS to take the Syrian town of Al-Bab, in the fiercest fighting yet of the Turkish military's campaign inside Syria that started last August.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'Turkey detains some 400 ISIS suspects in nationwide raids'. Print Edition | Subscribe