In a third terrorist attack since the start of the new year, Turkey, who is still reeling from the Istanbul nightclub attack that saw 39 dead and approximately 70 wounded, has just suffered another blow to the nation.
In what has been declared a ‘thwarted’ attack that has left two people killed and five others wounded, an explosion occurred in Izmir, a western Turkish city, near a courthouse. Local news has reported that 43-year-old police officer Fethi Sekin noted a suspicious vehicle at a checkpoint near the courthouse and stopped the attackers from reaching their target.
The police officer reportedly drew his weapon as the attackers fled the scene, however, in the process of what became a ‘clash’ a car bomb was also detonated. Fethi Sekin, who worked at the courthouse for nine years, was killed on scene after he managed to shoot one of the attackers.
Officials have praised police for their action, saying that this was a plan of a much larger scaled attack. The offenders were armed with Kalashnikov rifles and grenades, similar to the two gunmen who launched their assault inside an Istanbul restaurant only 48 hours ago, killing at least three and injuring several other diners. Although unconfirmed at the time, it is said that the restaurant attack may have been of a ‘personal’ vendetta.
So far, ISIS claimed responsibility for the nightclub attack; though it is uncertain if the militant Kurdistan Worker’s Party, PKK or if ISIS are responsible for the latest attack in Izmir.
A second car on scene was defused by police, which is believed to have been a part of an intended controlled explosion, the local news reported.
“If you look at the preparation, ammunition and guns, you understand that they were targeting a big destruction but it did not happen,” stated Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak.
So far, authorities have detained two of the suspected attackers with a possible third remaining at large.
“There might be or there might not be but because of the possibility we are looking for him, and if there is one, he will be caught,” Izmir Gov. Erol Ayyildiz told reporters.
The busy Aegean Sea port, Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city and home to over 2 million residents.
Turkey is currently on high alert after the nightclub attacks, with the terrorist threat growing. At the start of the week it was reported that some 339 major terror incidents (from both the PKK and ISIS) had been prevented in 2016, 80 of which were earmarked for the final months of the year.
Turkey ramped up their involvement in pushing back IS in Syria in 2016. The Istanbul nightclub attack is now viewed as retaliation for Turkey’s military involvement. The Izmir courthouse attacks are likely to be related.
As reported previously by the BBC, a large portion of those arrested in relation to the Istanbul nightclub attacks remains in custody in Izmir. Those in custody are reportedly connected to the main gunman responsible for the attacks, who still remains at large.
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