Turkey has detained 44 people suspected of planning terrorist attacks carried out in Istanbul last year by a militant group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an official says.
In a statement released on Thursday, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said the suspects had had links to the outlawed “Kurdistan Freedom Falcons,” an offshoot of the PKK, and that they had been detained during anti-terror operations carried out in four Turkish provinces.
The official said one of the detainees had been suspected of organizing a December 2016 bombing attack near the Besiktas soccer stadium in Istanbul, which killed 46 people. The governor added that another suspect had been the organizer of a car bomb attack on a bus carrying riot police last June. That attack left 11 people dead.
Sahin said the outlawed militant group had claimed responsibility for both attacks.
The PKK has claimed several other attacks against civilians and security forces in the recent past.
For nearly two years, Turkey has been engaged in a massive crackdown against the PKK in its Kurdish-dominated southeast. The military claims that it has killed thousands of PKK militants in security operations, although rights campaigners and pro-Kurdish political parties say civilians have been killed in the operations, too.