ANKARA — A week after three Israelis were killed in a deadly bombing in central Istanbul, Turkish police on Saturday warned of possible Islamic State attacks against Christians and Jews this weekend.
The police issued a nationwide alert warning of possible attacks targeting churches during Easter on Sunday, as well as synagogues, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.
Last Saturday’s attack, which killed three Israelis and an Iranian in a busy Istanbul shopping hub, was blamed by the Turkish authorities on a jihadist with links to the IS group.
IS has been blamed for four of the six bombings that have rocked Turkey in the past eight months, including a double suicide attack at a peace rally in the capital Ankara in October that left 103 people dead.
A radical offshoot of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) claimed the other two attacks.
The police have warned that IS group members may have scouted out places of worship as well as consulates and embassies, saying that churches and synagogues especially in Ankara, as well as foundations belonging to non-Muslims, should be on their guard.
Turkish state-run media reported on Monday that police were searching for three suspected Islamic State terrorists allegedly planning to carry out a “sensational” act in the country
Israel has not stated definitively whether last Saturday’s blast was deliberately targeted against Israelis. It has praised Turkey for its handling of the aftermath of the bombing.
Foreign Ministry chief Dore Gold on Tuesday praised the Turkish government for its high level of cooperation in the wake of the attack. “It is clear that the Turks went above and beyond to coordinate with Israel,” Gold said.
The Israeli victims were Yonathan Suher, 40, Simha Dimri, 59, and Avraham Goldman, 69. Suher and Goldman were also United States citizens.
Ankara is willing to work together with Jerusalem in fighting international terrorism, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin Wednesday, in a rare phone call between the two leaders.
Erdogan expressed his condolences to the Israeli people after the Istanbul attack, condemned all sorts of terrorism as “evil,” and expressed the will to cooperate on the global effort to fight the phenomenon.