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Turkey detains 51 over alleged ISIL links in nationwide operation

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Turkish police have detained 51 suspects with alleged links to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in simultaneous raids across 17 provinces, according to the interior minister.

Ali Yerlikaya announced on X on Tuesday that the suspects were detained as part of the “Merlin-7” operation.

The crackdown on alleged ISIL members comes in the wake of a deadly attack by two ISIL militants on a Roman Catholic church in İstanbul in late January.

The attack took place during a service at the church in Sarıyer on January 28 and claimed the life of a Turkish citizen, identified as 52-year-old Tuncer Cihan, who was not a member of the congregation.

In its statement on the day of the attack ISIL said the attack had been carried out in response to the group leader’s call to kill Jews and Christians everywhere.

Following the incident, hundreds of ISIL suspects were detained in operations across the country.

Turkey declared ISIL a terrorist organization in 2013 and has been attacked by the group multiple times since then. A total of 315 people were killed and hundreds more were injured in at least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb blasts and four attacks carried out by ISIL in the country.

In December of last year Turkish security forces detained 32 people over alleged links to the ISIL who were planning attacks on churches and synagogues as well as the Iraqi Embassy.

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