US warns cit­i­zens of ‘at­tack, kid­nap­ping risk’ in Is­tan­bul

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

ANKARA: The United States has warned its cit­i­zens of the po­ten­tial risk of ter­ror at­tack or at­tempted kid­nap­ping of for­eign­ers in Is­tan­bul, which has been rocked by sev­eral bomb­ings this year. The con­sulate in Is­tan­bul said in a mes­sage late Satur­day that ex­trem­ist groups continued their “ag­gres­sive ef­forts” to at­tack Amer­i­cans and other for­eign­ers in the city.

“Th­ese at­tacks may be pre-planned or could oc­cur with lit­tle or no warn­ing, and in­clude, but are not limited to: armed at­tack, at­tempted kid­nap­ping, bomb­ing, or other vi­o­lent acts,” it said in an on­line no­tice. The con­sulate did not spec­ify which group was be­lieved to be plot­ting such acts, but in the past year the city has suf­fered mul­ti­ple bomb­ings by the Is­lamic State group (IS) and Kur­dish mil­i­tants.

In June, 47 peo­ple were killed in a triple suicide bomb­ing and gun at­tack at Is­tan­bul’s Ataturk air­port, which au­thor­i­ties blamed on IS. Those vis­it­ing Is­tan­bul or liv­ing in the city were ad­vised to “re­view and up­date their per­sonal se­cu­rity prac­tices” when fre­quent­ing ar­eas pop­u­lar with West­ern­ers or where they may live, the con­sulate said.

It is the lat­est warn­ing from the US after the con­sulate in south­ern Adana prov­ince warned of a po­ten­tial se­cu­rity threat tar­get­ing US-branded ho­tels in south­ern Turkey in late Septem­ber. In the same month, the US em­bassy warned of the risk of a ter­ror at­tack on busi­nesses, in­clud­ing Star­bucks, used by West­ern­ers in Gaziantep, close to the Syr­ian border.

That warn­ing came after a deadly suicide bomb­ing in Gaziantep blamed on ji­hadists linked to IS in Au­gust. The at­tack on a wed­ding left 57 dead in­clud­ing 34 chil­dren. In the lat­est mes­sage, the con­sulate also told its cit­i­zens to avoid trav­el­ling to south­east­ern Turkey and to stay away from large crowds-es­pe­cially in pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions-as well as po­lit­i­cal gath­er­ings and ral­lies.

35,000 sus­pects ar­rested

Mean­while Turkey has ar­rested more than 35,000 peo­ple over al­leged links to the group run by the US-based preacher Fethul­lah Gulen, who is blamed for the failed July coup, lo­cal me­dia re­ported yes­ter­day. Turk­ish Jus­tice Min­is­ter Bekir Bozdag said the sus­pects had been placed un­der ar­rest since the at­tempted putsch that fell apart within hours, quoted by NTV broad­caster. An­other 3,907 sus­pects were still be­ing sought while nearly 26,000 peo­ple had been re­leased into “ju­di­cial con­trol”, he said.

Some 82,000 in­di­vid­u­als had been in­ves­ti­gated in to­tal since the coup bid, he told the au­di­ence on Satur­day at a rul­ing Jus­tice and Devel­op­ment Party con­fer­ence in Afy­onkarahisar, western Turkey. Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple have been sus­pended, sacked or de­tained in the mil­i­tary, ju­di­ciary, po­lice, ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor and me­dia in con­nec­tion with the July 15 at­tempted putsch blamed on Gulen and his Hizmet (Ser­vice) move­ment.

The un­prece­dented purge has come un­der heavy crit­i­cism from Turkey’s Western al­lies, in­clud­ing the Euro­pean Union. Brus­sels has urged Ankara to act within the rule of law, which Turkey in­sists it is. Ankara ac­cuses Gulen of mas­ter­mind­ing the coup, dur­ing which a rogue mil­i­tary fac­tion tried to oust Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er dog an.Gul en-who has lived in self­im­posed ex­ile since 1999 in Penn­syl­va­nia strongly de­nies the charges.—AF P

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