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Turkey detains 6 alleged IS terrorists planning attacks

Amid security alert that saw Israel tell its citizens to leave, foreign nationals sought to strike at ‘strategic locations’ in city of Konya

Illustrative photo of Turkish special force police officers in the Sultanbeyli district of Istanbul, August 10, 2015 (APF/Ozan Kose)
Illustrative photo of Turkish special force police officers in the Sultanbeyli district of Istanbul, August 10, 2015 (APF/Ozan Kose)

Turkish authorities have detained six suspected Islamic State terrorists who were allegedly planning to carry out attacks in the central Turkish city of Konya.

Gov. Muammer Erol said Saturday that the six — all foreign nationals — were detained in Konya late Friday. He said the group was “in pursuit of attacks” against Turkish government officials visiting Konya or at “strategic” locations in the city. He did not give their nationalities.

Turkey has been rocked by six deadly suicide bomb attacks since July — four of them blamed on Islamic State terrorists.

Most recently, a suicide attack in a busy pedestrian street in Istanbul killed four tourists on March 19, three of them Israelis.

Israel and the US recently warned their citizens of immediate and credible threats in the country, with Jerusalem urging any Israelis to leave.

The Israeli warning, which raised the terror risk in Turkey from level 2 (high concrete threat) to level 1 (highest concrete threat level), came following a terror attack in central Istanbul last month, in which three Israelis were killed and several others wounded. The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.

File: Emergency services inspecting the area following a suicide bombing in central Istanbul, Turkey, March 19, 2016. (Burak Kara/Getty Images via JTA)
File: Emergency services inspecting the area following a suicide bombing in central Istanbul, Turkey, March 19, 2016. (Burak Kara/Getty Images via JTA)

The Prime Minister’s Office, which oversees the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, issued an initial travel warning in the wake of the attack, saying Islamic State terrorists in Turkey had “high capabilities” of carrying out further attacks against tourist targets.

The fresh alert stressed that the threat of jihadist attack was valid for the entire country, not just Istanbul or other major tourist attractions.

“There are immediate risks of attacks being carried out in the country, and we stress the threat applies to all tourism sites in Turkey,” Israel‘s counter terrorism bureau said.

Simha Dimri (L), 60, Yonathan Suher (C), 40, and Avraham Goldman (R), 69, the three Israelis who were killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul, March 19, 2016. (Photos courtesy of the families/Facebook via JTA)
Simha Dimri (L), 60, Yonathan Suher (C), 40, and Avraham Goldman (R), 69, the three Israelis who were killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul, March 19, 2016. (Photos courtesy of the families/Facebook via JTA)

Tens of thousands of Israelis visit Turkey each year, despite strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.

A recent report on Channel 2 news said that despite the travel warning, over 110,000 Israelis were planning to vacation in Turkey during the Passover holiday.

Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.

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