9 Killed in Turkey IS Raids

9 Killed in Turkey IS Raids

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey claimed it struck a major blow against an Islamic State group cell in a raid Monday in which seven militants reportedly were killed. Two police officers also died in the clash in southeastern Turkey, police said.

The police officers were killed by booby-trap bombs as they broke down a door during a pre-dawn operation launched on "three or four houses" used by an IS cell in the city of Diyarbakir, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said.

A dozen suspected militants were detained, Kurtulmus said. Five other police officers were wounded during the raid.

"It was an important operation... An important DAESH group was neutralized," Kurtulmus said, using an alternative name for the IS group.

Kurtulmus said police acted on intelligence collected by Turkish security agencies since Friday.

It was not immediately clear if the operation was linked to two suicide bombings of a peace rally in the capital Ankara earlier this month that killed 102 people. One of the bombers was identified as an IS militant whose brother blew himself up in a similar deadly attack near Turkey's border with Syria in July.

The government — which is frequently accused of having ignored for too long the IS militants using Turkey's territory for activities in Syria — has come under intense criticism for failing to prevent the attack on the peace rally. Media reports have said the bomber who has been identified was known to authorities as a possible suicide attacker.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have suggested, however, that a "cocktail" of terror groups including IS, Turkey's Kurdish rebels and others were behind the peace rally attack.

Analysts are skeptical about claims of Kurdish rebel involvement because many Kurdish activists attended the Oct. 10 peace rally, and some were among the dead and injured. Many see the claim as a government attempt to deflect blame for the attack which came weeks ahead of Turkey's Nov. 1 election.

Erdogan repeated the claim during a campaign rally on Sunday, calling the Ankara attack "a collective terror act." He said the aim was to stabilize Turkey.

In Diyarbakir, armored police vehicles sealed off a road where police launched the raid, news agency Dogan's video footage showed. Heavy gunfire could be heard in the background.

Kurtulmus said authorities were trying to identify the dead militants and establish possible links to militants in other Turkish cities, and determine how many were Turkish and how many came from abroad.