Eighteen attacks in Turkey have been prevented so far this year, Interior Minister Efkan Ala said Sunday.
“As the Interior Ministry and police department, we had already warned all related units to stay alert against a possible [attack],” he said in an interview with Kanal 7 TV. “In this way, we have thwarted 18 such incidents.”
Ala was referring to security measures taken before the Feb. 17 Ankara car bomb attack that killed 29 people, mostly members of the military.
The minister said an inquiry had been launched to uncover any potential negligence in the run-up to the attack.
Referring to the explosives-laden car used in the Ankara attack, he added: “We have also captured three out of such four vehicles. A suspect was also nabbed and arrested in Istanbul’s Bosphorus area the previous day.
“We are not openly revealing most of these, as we should not. We are just striving to maintain the peace of our citizens.”
Asked whether the authorities had gathered further information on Ankara attack, Ala reiterated that the bomber was identified shortly after the explosion and the public informed.
“The whole network was soon brought to light, including those who had brought the vehicle, who sold it and delivered it,” he said. “A total of 25 suspects were taken into custody. Fifteen of them were held on remand. The investigation is still underway.”
Prosecutors have identified the bomber as Abdulbaki Somer, born in 1989. He reportedly joined the PKK terrorist organization in 2005 and was based in the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq until 2014.
Turning to the conflict in Turkey’s southeast, Ala said counter-terrorism operations were continuing in Cizre, Sirnak province. He said the curfew, which has been in place since Dec. 16, would soon be lifted during the day.
In Diyarbakir’s Sur district, an anti-terror operation is ongoing amid a round-the-clock curfew.