Turkey detains suspected members of Islamic State over election attack plot | News | DW | 22.06.2018
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Turkey detains suspected members of Islamic State over election attack plot

Authorities in Ankara have detained a group of foreign nationals who they say had planned an attack on this weekend's Turkish elections. Erdogan aims to extend his 15-year rule and assume sweeping new powers.

Police carried out counterterrorism raids in the Turkish capital early Friday morning. Some 14 suspected members of the "Islamic State" were detained and large amount of material were seized in the operation, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency. They were believed to be planning an attack on upcoming elections.

The raids came two days before the highly anticipated elections, which analysts say may see the "republican alliance" of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) forfeit its parliamentary majority to the opposition. That would leave Erdogan without a power base in parliament. 

Read more: Turkey elections: Can Erdogan really lose?

Islamic State has claimed several bombings in Turkey in recent years, including a New Year massacre by an Uzbek gunman at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul just minutes into 2017, in which 39 people were killed. The suspects detained on Friday morning were taken to the police headquarters in Ankara for questioning.

The 2017 New Year's attack occurred at the prominent Reina nightclub, which is on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait (picture-alliance/R. Hackenberg)

The 2017 attack occurred at the prominent Reina nightclub, which is on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait (pictured)

Sunday's elections will herald a transition to a new presidential system, giving the president new powers including greater influence over the judiciary. The position of prime minister will be abolished and the president will be head of state and government.

Read more: Turkish nationalists form new party challenging Erdogan

There is a two-term limit on the office of the president. However, Erdogan's AKP has ensured a backdoor: If parliament decides to hold new elections in the president's second term in office, then the president can run again.

The counting of presidential terms will be reset under the new system. This means that if Erdogan wins the election, his next term will be considered his first. In theory, he could remain in power until 2033. If he loses, however, his successor will benefit from the sweeping new powers.

kw/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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