Turkey breaks Kurdish militant cell east of Istanbul
ISTANBUL (Turkey) - Turkish police have smashed a cell of Kurdish militants in a usually tranquil region between Istanbul and Ankara who had hoarded explosives, guns and suicide vests, the Dogan news agency reported Sunday.
Police in the Bolu province east of Istanbul, said they had detained seven members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as part of an investigation into plans for a suicide attack.
The arrests come three days after Bolu police killed two suspected PKK members in an unusual raid in the province which is about half-way between Turkey's biggest city Istanbul and the capital Ankara, and far from the Kurdish-dominated southeast.
Police uncovered two pistols, four homemade explosive devices, two Kalashnikovs, C4 plastic explosives and two suicide vests, the Dogan news agency reported.
The haul comes with Turkey on a knife's edge after four militant attacks that have killed 79 people this year alone in Istanbul and Ankara.
The two bombings in Ankara were claimed by a group calling itself the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a radical splinter group of the PKK which has which has fought a decades-long insurrection against the Turkish state.
Those in Istanbul have been blamed on the Islamic State group.
Since the collapse of a two-year ceasefire with the PKK last year, Turkish government forces have been waging a blistering military campaign against the group in the southeast of the country.
Three weeks after the most recent attack in Istanbul, which left four dead and dozens injured, the United States and Israel have issued emergency travel warnings to their citizens in the past two days.
The US embassy warned of "credible threats to tourist areas, in particular to public squares and docks in Istanbul and Antalya."
Meanwhile, Israel urged its citizens to avoid Turkey or "leave as soon as possible", citing an imminent risk of an attack.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday lashed out at the west for backing Syrian Kurdish militia group the PYD in the fight against ISIS, which Turkey says is linked to the PKK -- which the US and EU consider a terrorist group.
"They are appendages of the same body ... If you do not see that the PYD is a terror organisation that means that you do not see the Ankara attack as a terror attack," Erdogan said during a speech in Istanbul.
"Is the fight with terrorism not supposed to be a common struggle?"