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ISIL suspects detained after US Embassy in Turkey closes due to terror threat

Policemen search a man outside the United States embassy in Ankara, on March 5, 2018, as part of security measures set after the embassy was closed to the public over a "security threat", on The embassy was the target in 2013 of a suicide bombing claimed by a far-left group that killed a Turkish security guard. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Turkish police on Monday thwarted a planned Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack on the US Embassy in Ankara, detaining suspects in the capital of Ankara and the Black Sea province of Samsun, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Four Iraqi nationals were detained by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and local counterterrorism authorities in an operation against ISIL, the state-run Anadolu new agency reported on Monday. Two of the suspects were detained on a bus while traveling on a highway linking the Black Sea city of Samsun to Ankara. They were taken into custody at a security check. Two others were detained in Samsun.

Several digital documents were seized in the operation, the agency reported.

The suspects, detained on charges of plotting an attack against the US Embassy in Ankara, were taken to a police station for interrogation.

The detentions came after the Ankara Governor’s Office stated late on March 4 that extra security measures had been taken in the city upon intelligence that “terrorist actions” could take place in areas where US citizens are located.

The US Embassy in Turkey announced that it has suspended operations March 5 and 6 due to an unspecified security threat.

Statements posted on the embassy’s website on March 4 and 5 urged US citizens to avoid the embassy in Ankara and large crowds as well as to “keep a low profile.”

The statement said the embassy would be closed due to a security threat and would “announce its reopening once it resumes services.”

It did not give details about the threat.

On March 5, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said US consulates in Turkey were “operating as normal.”

Earlier Monday, police detained 12 ISIL suspects in Ankara and were searching for eight others, Anadolu reported. However, it was not clear if these arrests were linked to the threat against the US Embassy.

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