ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police shot dead an Islamic State militant who was set to carry out a suicide bomb attack on a police station in the Mediterranean city of Mersin on Wednesday, the interior ministry said.
The assailant, wearing a vest packed with explosives, was killed outside the police station in the Yenisehir district, which security sources said is located next to the regional headquarters of Turkey’s MIT national intelligence agency.
“One member of the Daesh terrorist organization, wearing a suicide bomb vest, was captured dead in front of the Mersin Yenisehir district’s ... central police station,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
Police officers spotted the suspect behaving suspiciously some 50 meters (55 yards) from the police station at around 8:15 a.m. (0515 GMT), the Mersin governor’s office said.
The man ignored an order to stop and continued to move toward the police station. He was shot when his hand reached for a cable hanging down from his shoulder, the governor’s office said.
Islamic State militants have previously carried out gun and bomb attacks in Turkey. Many foreign fighters have also passed through Turkey in recent years on their way to join the jihadist group in its self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq.
Ankara has detained more than 5,000 Islamic State suspects and deported some 3,290 foreign militants from 95 different countries in recent years, according to Turkish officials.
The Dogan news agency identified the would-be attacker as a 20-year-old Syrian national who lived in an apartment block near the police station. It said bomb disposal experts defused the explosive device.
Police subsequently searched the home of the Syrian man and detained his father, Dogan said, adding that his family had moved to Mersin a year ago.
Additional reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Daren Butler and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Dolan and Catherine Evans