Turkey steps up IS arrests ahead of New Year attack anniversary

Turkey arrests more suspected Islamic State jihadists in a major crackdown on the extremist group ahead of high-security New Year celebrations overshadowed by the first anniversary of an attack that left 39 dead.

Just minutes into 2017, Istanbul was rocked by an attack by an Uzbek gunman acting on behalf of IS who fired indiscriminately on revelers at the Reina nightclub on the Bosphorus.

It was another body blow to Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a year of attacks by jihadists and Kurdish rebels as well as a failed coup.

However there has been no major attack in Turkey in 2017 since the Reina murders, and security forces this year appear to be taking every possible precaution to ensure this New Year passes without incident.

In pre-dawn raids Sunday, authorities detained 20 suspected IS members in Istanbul, 15 of them foreigners, who are believed to have spent time in Syria or Iraq, the Dogan news agency says.

Turkish media have said the authorities had already detained some 200 suspected jihadists in recent days — including 75 in Istanbul and Ankara on Friday — fearing they could launch an attack over the New Year.


People take pictures of a makeshift memorial set in front of the Reina nightclub on January 5, 2017 in Istanbul, four days after a gunman killed 39 people on New Year’s night. (AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE)

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