Ankara detains nearly 1,600 for alleged links to militants

Nearly 1,600 people have been detained in Turkey over the last week for suspected links to militant groups launching terror attacks in the country.

In a statement on Monday, the Turkish Interior Ministry said that 1,589 people had been apprehended for questioning over alleged links to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and the militants with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Among the detainees, a total of 1,067 people were suspected of links to the PKK, 501 had alleged ties to the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for orchestrating an attempted coup in last July, and another 21 people over connection with Daesh.

The ministry said that 125 of those detained were arrested, adding that 57 of them were charged with links to the PKK, 63 to Gulen and five to Daesh.

Turkey has declared the PKK a terrorist organization and has banned it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against the PKK positions in the country’s troubled southeastern border region as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Ankara is also grappling with the consequences of a coup attempt back in July 15, 2016, when a faction of Turkish armed forces attacked government buildings using tanks and helicopters, in an attempt to seize power from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ankara has so far dismissed or suspended tens of thousands of people from the civil service, judiciary, police and courts over their suspected links to Gulen. The cleric has condemned the coup attempt and denied any involvement in it.