ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish police detained 71 people on Tuesday in raids against suspected Islamic State militants in Istanbul and other cities, the local news agency Dogan reported, while the army said it caught 17 militants attempting to cross into Syria.
The sweep comes a day after police launched a series of operations against Islamic State groups, including a raid on more than a dozen houses in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir where seven militants were killed and 12 more captured.
Turkish authorities have extended operations against suspected Islamic State cells after a double suicide bombing in Ankara this month that killed more than 100 people, the worst attack of its kind in Turkey’s modern history. The bombing was blamed on the militant group.
“With yesterday’s operation, we prevented an attack bigger than that in Ankara. We captured many devices and materials used to make bombs. Senior names from Islamic State’s Turkish unit were killed in the operation,” a security official told Reuters.
“One suicide bomber with explosives wrapped around his body was also killed in the operation, before he found a chance to attack security personnel,” the official said.
In Tuesday’s operation, 21 people, including seven children, were detained in simultaneous raids on houses in Istanbul, Dogan news agency reported. Thirty people were detained in the central city of Konya and 20 others in Kocaeli, an industrial province east of Istanbul, Dogan said.
Separately, the Turkish military said 17 people attempting to cross illegally into Syria were caught in the Elbeyli province of Kilis.
Last week, President Tayyip Erdogan said Syrian intelligence and Kurdish militants, not only Islamic State, were behind the Ankara attack, which occurred during a rally of pro-Kurdish activists and civic groups.
Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by David Dolan and Ece Toksabay; Editing by Robert Birsel, Larry King