Turkey arrests IS suspects planning 'fear and chaos campaign'

Turkey arrests IS suspects planning 'fear and chaos campaign'
Turkish police have arrested nine suspected members of the Islamic State group who planned to launch terrorist attacks on opposition party ahead of last Sunday's election.
2 min read
04 November, 2015
Turkish anti-terror squads have swooped on a number of suspected IS hideouts [Anadolu]

Turkey has arrested nine suspected members of the Islamic State group for allegedly plotting suicide attacks on a political party and an opposition newspaper, media reports said Wednesday.

Police detained two suspects after a car chase on Friday in the south-eastern province of Gaziantep near the Syrian border and another seven accomplices were detained in later police raids, the Dogan news agency reported.

The suspects were acting on the orders of high-ranking IS members in Syria and had planned to create "an atmosphere of fear and chaos" ahead of last Sunday's parliamentary election, the Gaziantep governor's office said in a statement.

The nine, who were caught with grenades, explosives and suicide vests, were plotting suicide bomb attacks on the Istanbul headquarters of an unidentified party and the leading opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper.

Turkish police had boosted security at the paper's offices in Istanbul and Ankara after a tip-off that it had been targeted by IS extremists.

Security has been high in Turkey since a massive twin suicide bombing on a peace rally in Ankara on October 10 that killed 102 people in the worst such atrocity in the country's history.

Turkish prosecutors said the attack was ordered by IS in Syria and that a sleeper cell in Gaziantep was planning further attacks on Turkish soil.

Presidential mandate

Turkey's outgoing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a majority in last weekend's election. 

Erdogan's spokesman said on Wednesday that the president will look to extend the powers of his office, and this will be a "leap forward" for Turkey.

"We have a clear opinion that the presidential system will help Turkey jump to another league," Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in Ankara, signalling that the issue could be put to the Turkish people in a referendum.

It is no secret that Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics since he became premier in 2003, is seeking to broaden his role into a US-style executive presidency. 

In Sunday's election, the AKP won 317 seats in the 550-member parliament - still short of the 330 needed to change the constitution and  give the president greater powers.

Kalin hinted at a referendum, saying: "This is an issue that can be finalised after consulting with the people... If the mechanism to do this is a referendum, then one will be held."

Later on Wednesday, Erdogan called for a new constitution during a televised speech in Ankara.

"Solving the issue of a new constitution was one of the most important messages of 1 November."

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