ISTANBUL, Aug 14, (Agencies): Istanbul’s police chief on Monday hailed as a hero a 24-year-old officer stabbed to death by a suspected member of the Islamic State (IS) group, who had been arrested for allegedly planning a suicide attack. Sinan Acar was attacked with a knife by the suspect, who has not been named, after the man was brought by car for questioning to the headquarters of Istanbul police late Sunday.
Acar later died of his wounds while the suspected IS member was shot dead on the spot by other police officers. Speaking at a funeral ceremony for the slain officer, police chief Mustafa Caliskan said Acar and his colleagues had prevented a potentially significant attack by arresting the suspect. “The man arrested was someone who was the subject of an international search,” said Caliskan. “We think that a very serious attack was prevented.” “It must be known that in this country people like Sinan will live on,” he said at the ceremony also attended by Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin. It was not immediately clear how the suspect managed to keep a knife while being taken into custody. At the funeral, Acar’s mother, overcome by emotion, was supported by a female police officer, an AFP correspondent said. He will later be buried in his native Bursa region.
Turkey was hit in 2016 by a succession of attacks that left hundreds dead in the bloodiest year of terror strikes in its history. The attacks were blamed on IS jihadists as well as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who have battled the Turkish state in an insurgency lasting more than three decades. Last month anti-terror officers in Istanbul detained dozens of alleged IS members, several of whom were said to be preparing a “sensational attack” in Turkey, police said. An attack by a jihadist gunman on an elite nightclub in Istanbul just 75 minutes into New Year’s Day in 2017 left 39 people dead, mainly foreigners. There has since been a lull in similar attacks, but tensions and high security remain in big cities. Turkey was in the last years criticised by NATO allies for not doing more against the rise of IS but recent months have seen near daily raids on the group’s cells inside the country. Meanwhile, Istanbul’s police chief says an Islamic State militant who stabbed a police officer to death while in custody was an “internationally wanted terrorist.”
Mustafa Caliskan said Monday the man — who was shot and killed by other officers after the attack — was planning a major assault, which his detention allegedly thwarted. Caliskan was speaking at a memorial for the 24-year-old slain officer. The suspected IS suicide bomber was detained in an anti-terror operation and was being taken to Istanbul’s main police station when he fatally stabbed the officer late on Sunday. It was unclear how the suspect had access to a knife. There was no word on his identity or nationality. Turkey has endured multiple bomb attacks since 2015, blamed on IS or Kurdish militants.