According to the report, the suspected bombers were trained in southeastern provinces by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and sent to large Turkish cities to launch attacks there. In the notice, the General Directorate of Security warned police departments to be on the lookout for any possible terrorist attacks in their cities and urged residents to alert police to any suspicious individual or act.
In the meantime, Mersin Governor Hüseyin Aksoy called a press conference yesterday to brief the press about a police operation against members of a terrorist operation on April 24. He said Mersin police seized more than 35 kilograms of explosives at an address in the Batıkent area in an operation last week, thwarting the terrorists’ plans. He did not specify with which organization the terrorists were affiliated.
Aksoy said three terrorists were captured in the operation in addition to the discovery of the plastic explosives. He stated that the terrorists were preparing to launch large-scale attacks at different points in the province to create an atmosphere of chaos and panic. The terrorists, identified by their initials Y.Y., D.H.D. and Z.C.A., were also behind the bombings of two shopping malls in Mersin. “The terrorists came to Mersin to stage armed attacks and bombings to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere in our city,” Aksoy noted. He also said four other individuals were detained on suspicion of aiding and abetting the terrorists.
Besides over 35 kilograms of explosives, police seized two hand grenades, two hand guns, six cartridges, 74 bullets, one police radio, one rifle and several pages of documents from the organization.
After last week’s operations against Turkey’s al-Qaeda network in five Anatolian provinces by counterterrorism units, 22 individuals were detained during raids in İstanbul on Monday while three detainees were arrested in the eastern province of Van in relation to al-Qaeda. The counterterrorism units of the Gaziantep, Konya, Adana, Kahramanmaraş and Şanlıurfa police departments staged simultaneous raids on a number of houses in their respective cities last week and detained 37 people.
In Monday’s İstanbul operations, counterterrorism units raided 17 houses in Ümraniye. A gun and a number of documents belonging to the organization were seized by the police. The police were reported to have launched the operations based on maps seized in the Gaziantep operations.
Three suspects were detained in Van on charges of trying to go to al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. While one of the suspects was a Syrian citizen, another suspect, Münir Hayal, was reported to be a relative of Yasin Hayal, currently under arrest as a key suspect in the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. The three were apprehended while attempting to cross the Iranian border with fake passports. Following a two-day interrogation at a Van courthouse, each was arrested for membership in a terrorist organization and forgery.
Counterterrorism units and police teams in a number of Turkish cities have been cooperating for months to root out cells aligned with Turkey’s al-Qaeda network. The investigation has yielded a significant number of arrests throughout the country; 30 individuals allegedly linked to al-Qaeda were detained in Eskişehir earlier this month.