Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan. Picture: REUTERS/KEMAL ASLAN
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan. Picture: REUTERS/KEMAL ASLAN

Istanbul — Turkish police detained 94 people suspected of ties to Islamic State (IS) in nationwide raids on Monday ahead of New Year celebrations, police and state media said, two months after the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed.

Police have rounded up jihadist militants in late December in the past two years, since New Year’s Day in 2017 when a gunman killed 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub in an attack claimed by the militant group.

Counter-terror police carried out the operations in the central provinces of Ankara, Kayseri and Adana, and Batman in the southeast, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported. Istanbul police said it also made arrests.

At 2am GMT in Batman, some 400 police officers detained 22 people in simultaneous raids on various addresses, seizing weapons, ammunition and documents, Anadolu said.

It said 30 Iraqis, two Syrians and one Moroccan were detained in Ankara. Nine Iraqi citizens who had operated in Syria and Iraq were detained in Kayseri, while four Syrian and two Iraqi citizens were detained in Adana, it added.

Istanbul police said 20 Turks and four foreign nationals were captured in separate raids aimed at preventing potential attacks by the group ahead of New Year’s.

US President Donald Trump announced on October 27 that IS  leader Baghdadi had been killed in a raid by US special forces in northwest Syria, near the Turkish border. Two days later, Turkish police detained dozens of IS suspects believed to have been plotting attacks targeting Turkey’s Republic Day celebrations.

The government has said it will have repatriated most of its IS  detainees to their home countries by the end of 2019. Ankara has accused its European allies of being too slow to take back their citizens who traveled to the Middle East to join IS.

Turkey’s Nato allies have been worried that its October offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia could lead to IS suspects and their families escaping from the prisons and camps run by the YPG.

Reuters