Prosecutors: Local IS cell behind Ankara peace rally attacks

AP News
Posted: Oct 28, 2015 11:28 AM
Prosecutors: Local IS cell behind Ankara peace rally attacks

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A local cell of the Islamic State group, which took orders from extremists in Syria, was behind the two suicide bombings earlier this month that killed 102 people at a peace rally in Ankara, Turkish prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Ankara Chief Prosecutor's office said it had obtained "strong evidence" that the IS cell — based in Gaziantep, near the Syrian border — was also responsible for four previous attacks in Turkey since May that have mainly targeted supporters of a pro-Kurdish party.

The prosecutor's office, which is probing the Oct. 10 bombings, said investigators had established a "regular flow of money" from IS in Syria to the cell.

The announcement contradicted government claims that a "cocktail" of terror groups, including the IS and the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, had carried out the attacks in Ankara against Turkish and Kurdish activists gathered to promote peace between the Kurdish rebels and Turkey's security forces. 

The local cell had received "permission" from IS in Syria to carry out attacks against Kurdish rebels and other groups in Turkey. The statement added that the cell sought the group's permission for attacks on Turkey's Jewish and Christian communities and was also planning a suicide attack on a military base in the country.

The information was obtained after experts examined the group's computers, the prosecutors said, but added only about 5 percent of the "digital material" had been inspected so far.

Earlier, the prosecutors had identified one of the suicide bombers as an IS militant whose brother blew himself up in a similar deadly attack near Turkey's border with Syria in July. Media reports said he was known to the authorities as a possible suicide attacker.

The government has come under intense criticism for failing to prevent the attack on the peace rally and has since expanded operations against IS.

On Monday, the government claimed it struck a major blow to an IS cell in a raid in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, in which seven militants reportedly were killed. Two police officers also died in the clash.