Turkey braces for more terrorist attacks

At least two Western embassies have been warned of new security threats in the Turkish capital Ankara, while Serbia warned its citizens against traveling to Turkey two weeks after a bomb exploded in the heart of Istanbul.

The warnings come ahead of New Year’s Eve and are a time when Turkish cities such as Istanbul are at their peak of overcrowding and crowding in restaurants, streets and casinos.

Istanbul was the target of a bloody attack during New Year’s celebrations in early January 2017 at the Reina nightclub in the Ortakoy district of Besiktas district, where a gunman killed 39 people and injured 69 with a machine gun. The next day, in a statement, the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack.

Six people were killed in the attack on a busy pedestrian street, which Turkish authorities blamed on Kurdish militants. Both the PKK and the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) denied any involvement in the attack.

Turkey has been wary of further terror attacks since the Istanbul bombings, amid fears that its foreign wars and crackdown on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq and Syria could backfire and trigger retaliation for bloody attacks on minority Kurdish strongholds in its east and its neighbors Syria and Iraq.

Three embassies of Western European countries and a major international organization, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Turkish authorities had warned them of possible threats, but Ankara has not confirmed or denied the information, while authorities are cautious with such threats for fear of economic repercussions.

“In an email to staff that Reuters said it had seen, the umbrella organization highlighted the dangers in shopping malls, bus stations and airports to potential revenge attacks by militants.” Turkey’s defense and interior ministries declined to comment on the warnings.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić said Wednesday that Serb citizens should avoid traveling to Turkey, especially Ankara, in the coming weeks because of the possibility of attacks, the Tanjug news agency reported.

“I want to warn the public that according to information from the security services, terrorist attacks can be expected in the next few weeks, in which case this information points to the Turkish capital Ankara,” Dačić told Tanjug.

Dacic added that the warning could also apply to other parts of Turkey, warning Serb nationals against traveling there, unless they have an urgent need to do so.

“If our citizens are already there, they should avoid crowded places such as pedestrian, metro, buses, trains and other such places,” he said.

“The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, killing more than 40,000 people.”

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