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Turkey raids suspected 'Islamic State' cells

Police have carried out raids on suspected militants in the cities of Izmir and Istanbul. The action comes two days after a triple bombing of Istanbul's Ataturk airport that killed 44 people and wounded hundreds more.

The death toll from the Istanbul airport attack rose to 44 on Thursday, as a senior Turkish official said the bombers who carried it out were from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Counterterrorism police led by special forces commandos carried out raids Thursday in several low-income neighborhoods of Istanbul. Police detained 13 people, including three foreigners, for suspected links with the suicide attack.

Police have conducted simultaneous raids on 16 locations in Istanbul, the unnamed official told the Reuters news agency, confirming separate Turkish media reports.

The state-run newswire Anadolu Agency also reported that nine suspected militants, thought to have been in contact with Islamic State members in Syria, were detained in the dawn raids in four districts of Izmir.

It said the nine were accused of financing, recruiting and providing logistical support to the Sunni extremist group widely believed to be behind Tuesday's triple bombing of Istanbul's main airport.

Police launch raids

Türkei Anschlag am Flughafen in Istanbul - Tag danach

Police in Istanbul arrested at least 13 people following the Ataturk airport attack

One of the suspects, named as Mohammad Arab, was planning an attack either in Ankara or in the southern city of Adana, the private Dogan news agency reported.

Meanwhile, Turkish security forces have killed two suspected members of the Islamic State group on the Syrian border.

After more than a year of foot-dragging, Turkey is part of a US-led military coalition against Islamic State and home to around 3 million refugees from the five-year civil war in neighboring Syria.

Islamic State has established a self-declared caliphate and declared war on all non-Muslims and all Muslims who do not accept its ultra-hardline version of Sunni Islam.

Turkey has long been accused of turning a blind eye to jihadis - including IS members - who regularly transit its territory to and from Syria and Iraq.

But following

a string of deadly attacks blamed on the group,

Turkey has cracked down on IS, which occupies swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, right up to the Turkish border.

jar/sms/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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