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Turkish police hunt for 3 Islamic state militants

21 March 2016, 22:07

Istanbul — Turkish state-run media reported on Monday that police are searching for three suspected Islamic State militants who are allegedly planning to carry out a "sensational" act in the country, which has already been rocked by six suicide bombings since the summer,.

The Anadolu Agency, citing unnamed security sources, said that the three are members of a local cell linked to Islamic State militants and that all provincial police departments have been alerted and ordered to capture them.

There was no immediate comment from the interior ministry.

The search comes two days after an IS suicide bomber killed himself, two Israeli-Americans, an Israeli and an Iranian in Istanbul's busiest pedestrian shopping street. It was the sixth deadly suicide attack in Turkey since July. They have either been blamed on the IS group or claimed by Kurdish militants linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said Turkey is facing one of its "biggest and bloodiest waves of terror attacks."

It was not immediately clear if the three wanted IS suspects are connected to the suicide bomber who blew himself up in Istanbul on Saturday. Authorities have identified him as Turkish national Mehmet Ozturk, who was not on any wanted lists.

Authorities on Sunday postponed a major soccer game between Istanbul rivals Galatasaray and Fenerbahce over an unspecified terror threat. Some media reports have said the decision to call off the game two hours before kickoff was linked to the threat posed by the three IS suspects.

Also Monday, a 25-year-old man died of wounds sustained in the March 13 suicide car bombing in the capital Ankara, the health ministry said, raising the death toll in that attack to 38— including the two bombers. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or TAK, which is a PKK offshoot, claimed that attack.

- AP


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