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Turkey detains over 750 in anti-IS raids: state media

06 Feb 2017

istanbul, Feb 6 Turkish security forces have detained over  750 people suspected of links to the Islamic State extremist group in Turkey's  biggest ever crackdown against the organisation, state media said today.

Some 450 suspects were picked up in the initial phase of the  nationwide operation yesterday but the number held has now risen to 763, the  Anadolu news agency said.

It said raids took place in 29 of Turkey's 81 provinces and  documents, weapons and ammunition were also seized.

The operation came just over a month after 39 people, mainly  foreigners, were killed on New Year's night when a gunman went on the rampage  inside a plush Istanbul nightclub.

The IS jihadist group claimed the massacre, its first clear  claim for a major attack in Turkey although it had been blamed for several  bombings in 2016.

Turkish police have over the last few years launched  numerous raids against IS suspects but a nationwide operation on this scale  against the group is unprecedented.

Anadolu quoted Turkey's police directorate as saying that IS  was looking to stage a "sensational action" inside the country for  propaganda purposes, with media organisations seen as a possible target.

No further details were given.

Turkey was long accused by its Western allies of not doing  enough to stop the flow of jihadists across its borders and emergence of IS  cells in its own cities.

ankara denies the charges, saying it listed IS as a terror  group since 2013. However, observers say Turkey has markedly stepped up its  actions against the group in the last few months.

Police captured alive the suspected Reina nightclub  attacker, Abdulgadir Masharipov, an Uzbek national, on January 16 after more  than two weeks on the run and observers believe he may provide crucial  intelligence.

According to media reports, Masharipov had also considered  attacking Istanbul's main Taksim Square as well as the offices of the  opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper.