ANKARA Turkish police detained six suspected Islamic State militants for planning to attack a three-week-old protest march led by the head of the main opposition party, a provincial governor was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Tens of thousands of people have joined the opposition CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu on his 425-km (265-mile) march from the capital Ankara to Istanbul, a protest launched after a CHP deputy was jailed on spying charges.
Kilicdaroglu said there had been rumors that the march could be targeted by “provocations” as it approached Istanbul, where the protest is set to end with a mass rally on Sunday.
“Following a nice tip-off, our police detained a group of six Islamic State militants. They were planning to attack the convoy with a minibus,” Kayseri Governor Suleyman Kamci told the website of Hurriyet newspaper.
He did not specify what sort of attack was allegedly planned but Islamic State militants have carried out both bomb and gun attacks in Turkey in the past. Police and officials were not immediately available for comment.
Kamci said the suspects rented a black minibus in Kayseri on Tuesday, and that four of them were detained in Kayseri and two in Kocaeli province, through which the protesters were marching on Wednesday.
President Tayyip Erdogan has previously accused the protesters of “acting together with terrorist groups”, referring to Kurdish militants and followers of the U.S.-based Islamic cleric accused of orchestrating the attempted coup in July 2016.
The protesters deny the accusations, with Kilicdaroglu saying they are marching for “justice” and accusing the government of creating a one-party state in the wake of the failed military coup a year ago.
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Mark Heinrich)