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Turkish police detain scores of 'Islamic State' suspects in raids

Turkey has arrested some 30 suspected "Islamic State" jihadists in a morning raid on Tuesday, according to local media. Violence has spiked in the country over the past weeks as it prepares for crucial general elections.

The security forces also launched operations against "Islamic State" (IS) members in the central city of Konya, according to the country's Dogan news agency, which added that the raids were ongoing.

On Monday, the Turkish police raided dozens of houses in Diyarbakir - a southeastern Kurdish majority city. At least seven militants were killed and 12 were arrested in the operation. Two police officers died during a gun battle with Islamists.

The sweep comes as Turkey gears up for general elections on November 1. The vote is deemed as a test for President Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in power for more than a decade, but his Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to win a majority in June elections.

Turkey has seen a sharp rise in violence over the past few months. More than 100 people were killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside Ankara's central train station on October 10. They targeted a liberal peace rally which had called for an end to hostilities between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels.

After first blaming the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Turkish authorities then said the IS was the "number one suspect" for the attack.

On Monday, Erdogan vowed to press ahead with operations against all "terrorists." Turkish authorities said they had no plans of postponing the Sunday vote.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday the country's military targeted Kurdish fighters across the border in northern Syria. Ankara is also part of the US-led coalition against IS, which has been launching airstrikes against the Sunni militant group in Syria and Iraq for months.

Rights groups claim that the Turkish government is using the Islamist excuse to crack down on political opponents, independent media and activists. These actions, they say, are damaging the credibility of the election.

shs/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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