Turkey arrests ′Islamic State′ suspects ahead of Merkel visit | News | DW | 23.04.2016
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Turkey arrests 'Islamic State' suspects ahead of Merkel visit

Foreigners with suspected links to the 'Islamic State' (IS) terrorist group accused of planning an attack against "state dignitaries" have been detained in Turkey ahead of a visit by top EU officials.

The arrests took place overnight in the conservative city of Konya, in the center of the country, local authorities reported Saturday. The six foreigners were detained as Turkey prepared for a visit by European Council head Donald Tusk and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Gaziantep, which borders Syria and territories controlled by IS.

According to a statement from officials in Konya, the suspects "wanted to attack dignitaries of the state and strategic targets."

"The operation has helped to thwart a possible attack," it read.

Governor Muammer Erol said Saturday that the foreign nationals were detained late on Friday night. He added that the group was "in pursuit of attacks" against Turkish government officials visiting Konya or at "strategic" locations around the city. He did not disclose their nationalities.

Merkel and Tusk, along with the vice president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, are expected to visit a refugee camp during their trip to the southeast of the country later on Saturday.

Their trip comes one month after the European Union sealed a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants coming to Europe. The deal saw Ankara accept conditions to return migrants from Greece in exchange for visa-free travel for its citizens.

IS, the militant organization which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq, has been accused by Turkish authorities of carrying out four bomb attacks in the NATO member state since June.

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