Turkey tightens security for anniversary of nightclub attack
New Year events cancelled and 120 people with suspected links to Islamic State detained
A video capture shows a gunman entering the Reina nightclub in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve 2016, before killing 39 people and wounding 65. Photograph: EPA
Turkish police have detained 120 people with suspected links to Islamic State in the countdown to New Year’s Eve, state media said on Thursday, as part of a tightening of security one year after a gunman killed 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub.
Turkey will also more than double the number of police officers on duty in Istanbul and cancel or ban public celebrations in key districts of its largest city on New Year’s Eve for security reasons, officials said.
A year on, 37,000 police officers and some 4,000 gendarmes who maintain security in rural areas will be on duty over New Year, Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin told reporters on Thursday, more than double the usual daily deployment.
“Virtually all our teams will be on duty. We will take all possible measures in Istanbul so that our citizens can mark New Year happily in peace,” Mr Sahin said.
Counter-terrorism police raided houses in 12 provinces across Turkey, and those detained included foreign nationals, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Istanbul’s Sisli municipality said it had cancelled a four-day event due to start on Thursday after the local governor requested it be curtailed for security reasons. The nearby municipality of Besiktas was refused permission to stage an event on December 31st due to the same concerns.
The daily newspaper Habertürk said security was being tightened in Taksim Square, reportedly one of the initial sites the gunman last year had planned to attack before opting for the nightclub.
“New Year [security] measures will be at the highest level. There won’t be any celebrations,” Habertürk cited Beyoglu police chief Ismail Kilic as saying. “Gatherings will not be allowed.”
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the nightclub shooting, one of a series of attacks believed to have been carried out by the jihadists and also by Kurdish militants. A trial of suspects in the Reina attack, including the gunman, began this month. – Reuters