ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish police shot dead a suspected Islamic State militant overnight who was believed to be planning a suicide bomb attack in the capital Ankara, the city’s governor said on Wednesday.
It was the latest in a series of counter-terrorist police operations coinciding with a Turkey-backed rebel operation in Syria to drive the jihadists away from its southern border.
Turkish security forces have meanwhile stepped up action against Kurdish militants, killing 14 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters in eastern Turkey in recent days, the interior minister said.
Police tracked the Islamic State suspect to the ninth floor of a building on Ankara’s outskirts, where he was killed in a gunfight around 3 a.m. after opening fire in response to a call to surrender, the state-run Anadolu Agency said.
“The terrorist is judged to have been planning to carry out a suicide bomb attack and carried out reconnaissance around the old parliament building and Anitkabir,” Governor Ercan Topaca wrote on Twitter, referring to the mausoleum of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
The suspect may have been targeting ceremonies to be held there on the Oct. 29 anniversary of the Turkish Republic’s foundation or on Nov. 10 to commemorate Ataturk’s death, Anadolu cited Topaca as saying.
Police found explosive materials including sticks of dynamite and ammonium nitrate at the scene, the governor said.
The suspect was registered as resident of the southeastern city of Diyarbakir and was born in 1992, Anadolu said.
After receiving intelligence that militants were planning attacks in the capital, Topaca’s office on Monday banned public meetings and marches until the end of November.
The ban was enforced in line with emergency rule imposed after an attempted coup in July.
Islamic State and Kurdish militants have carried out attacks in the capital. This month two suspected PKK members, believed to be planning a car bomb attack, blew themselves up in a standoff with police in Ankara.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters in Ankara that operations targeting militants would continue in the days ahead and said 13 PKK fighters were killed this week in the eastern province of Tunceli and one further north in Erzincan.
In the Lice district of Diyarbakir province, PKK militants staged a rocket attack on a minibus carrying members of the state-sponsored village guard militia who fight against the PKK, killing two guards and wounding two others, security sources said.
Separately, the sources said 20 people were detained overnight in simultaneous raids across the city of Diyarbakir designed to avert Islamic State bomb attacks.
In the Mediterranean coastal province of Mersin, the governor has banned street celebrations such as weddings for reasons of public security, his office said in a statement on its website. It called for tighter security at transport hubs.
Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Alison Williams