Istanbul to deploy 40,000 police for New Year

ISTANBUL: Istanbul will deploy over 40,000 members of the security forces for the night of New Year’s Eve, one year after a deadly attack on a nightclub claimed 39 lives, its governor said on Thursday.

Following the attack on the Reina nightclub claimed by Daesh, celebrations in the city are expected to be low-key with several popular areas in the city forbidding public events.

Turkish police have meanwhile detained dozens of suspected extremists nationwide over the past days, although there has been no indication of any concrete link to the New Year.

Istanbul governor Vasip Shain said that 37,000 police and 4,000 members of the gendarmerie and coastguard would be deployed on the night of December 31-January 1 to ensure security.

“We are having very serious security measures to ensure that our citizens, God willing, see in the New Year in peace and security,” he said, quoted by the Dogan news agency.

He said that entertainment venues had been told to have their own private security officials on hand and if the precautions were inadequate then police would be deployed.

After last year’s carnage, the mood is expected to be muted for seeing in 2018 in Istanbul and there will be no celebrations in key parts of the city that are usually packed with revellers.

The authorities have banned any New Year celebrations in Taksim Square in the heart of the European side of the city while a similar measure has been imposed for the lively district of Besiktas.

The district of Sisli — home to Istanbul’s most upmarket shopping and residential areas — has also scrapped New Year celebrations on security grounds.

The Reina massacre was carried out by a single gunman, Uzbek citizen Abdulkadir Masharipov, who confessed to acting on behalf of Daesh.

Masharipov escaped the scene but was then captured after a 17-day manhunt and went on trial on December 11.

Since the attack, Turkish security forces have stepped up arrests of suspected extremists, possibly using intelligence that came from capturing Masharipov alive.

In the latest raids, 38 suspected Daesh members, mainly Syrians, were detained in the city of Bursa south of Istanbul, Dogan news agency said. Another seven were detained in Istanbul and 17 in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

Of the 39 people killed in the Reina attack — which took place just 75 minutes into 2017 — 27 were foreigners, including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco.


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