December 28, 2017 / 12:37 PM / 2 years ago

Turkey tightens New Year security, 120 arrested ahead of attack anniversary

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police have detained 120 people with suspected links to Islamic State (IS) in the countdown to New Year’s Eve, state media said on Thursday, part of a tightening of security one year after a gunman killed 39 people in an Istanbul night club.

FILE PHOTO: A Turkish riot police stands guard at the police headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

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.

On Dec. 31, 2016, a man with an assault rifle shot dead Turks and visitors from several Arab nations, India and Canada at the exclusive Reina nightclub in Istanbul.

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,” Sahin said.

The 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 canceled 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 31 for the same concerns.

The daily Haberturk 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,” Haberturk cited Beyoglu police chief Ismail Kilic as saying. “Gatherings will not be allowed.”

IS 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.

Writing by Daren Butler and Ezgi Erkoyun; editing by Gareth Jones

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