Erdogan Says Turkish Soldiers Are Deploying To Libya

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan / AFP


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkish soldiers had begun deploying to Libya after parliament approved such a move last week.

“Our soldiers’ duty there is coordination. They will develop the operation centre there. Our soldiers are gradually going right now,” he told CNN Turk broadcaster during an interview.

The Turkish parliament passed a bill allowing the government to send troops to Libya aimed at shoring up the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

The Tripoli government has come under sustained attack since military strongman general Khalifa Haftar launched his offensive in April.

Haftar is backed by Turkey’s regional rivals, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while the UN-backed government has the support of Ankara and its ally Qatar.

Erdogan said Turkey’s objective was “not to fight”, but “to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy”.

Turkey’s move comes after the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord made a formal request for military support.

Libya and Turkey signed security and maritime agreements in November last year, angering Mediterranean countries including Greece and Cyprus who also seek to exploit energy resources in the region.

‘Pirates’ Kidnap 10 Turkish Sailors Off Nigeria Coast


Ten Turkish sailors on a cargo ship were kidnapped by armed men off the coast of Nigeria, Turkish state media reported Tuesday.

The Turkish-flagged Paksoy-I cargo vessel, operated by shipping company Kadioglu Denizcilik, was attacked on Monday night, state news agency Anadolu said.

A Kadioglu Denizcilik employee who wished to remain anonymous told AFP that 10 Turkish sailors were kidnapped among 18 crew members on board the ship.

The employee denied local media reports that two sailors had since been freed.

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A company statement cited by Turkish media said the ship was attacked by “pirates” on its way from Cameroon to the Ivory Coast. It was carrying no freight.

Turkey’s ruling party spokesman Omer Celik said a ship with Turkish crew was “seized” off Nigeria, but did not provide further details.

Celik said Turkish authorities were following the issue closely.

Pirates normally seize sailors for ransom. Nigeria reported 14 pirate attacks in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 22 in the same period in 2018.

An International Maritime Bureau (IMB) report in April attributed the drop to the Nigerian navy’s increased efforts to “actively respond to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats.”


Nine Dead, 47 Injured In Ankara Train Crash

Firefighters and medics try to rescue victims after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in Ankara, on December 13, 2018. Nine people were killed and nearly 50 injured in this train accident.


Nine people were killed and nearly 50 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said.

Transport Minister Cahit Turhan told reporters in televised remarks that three of those killed were operators of the train.

One of the victims died in hospital, he added.

Turhan added that 47 people were injured and were in hospital for treatment.

The fast train had been on its way from Ankara’s main station to the central province of Konya and according to Hurriyet daily, there were 206 passengers on board.

Earlier, the Ankara governor’s office said three out of a total of 46 people had been seriously injured.

The death toll was rising fast. Ankara governor Vasip Sahin said earlier on Thursday morning that four people had been killed.


 Debris scattered on the tracks 

“This morning there was an accident after the 6.30 high-speed train to Konya hit a locomotive tasked with checking rails on the same route,” Sahin told reporters in televised remarks.

Turhan said the accident took place six minutes after the train left Ankara as it entered the Marsandiz station.

The governor said search and rescue efforts continued as “technical investigations” were underway to find out exactly what caused the crash in Yenimahalle district.

He said information about the cause of the crash would be shared with the public when it is known.

Images published by Turkish media showed some wagons had derailed and debris from the train scattered on the rail track, which was covered in snow.

The windows of one wagon were completely broken while another wagon had been smashed after hitting the footbridge, which also collapsed, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

The Ankara public prosecutor launched an investigation into the crash, state news agency Anadolu reported.

The Ankara to Konya high-speed route was launched in 2011 and was followed in 2014 with a high-speed link between Ankara and Istanbul.

The accident comes after another rail disaster in July this year when 24 people were killed and hundreds more injured after a train derailed in Tekirdag province, northwest Turkey, due to ground erosion following heavy rains.

Turkey’s rail network has been hit by several fatal accidents in recent years.

In March 2014, a commuter train smashed into a minibus on a railway track in the southern Turkish province of Mersin, which left 10 dead.

In January 2008, nine people were killed when a train derailed in the Kutahya region south of Istanbul because of faulty tracks.

Turkey’s worst rail disaster in recent history was in July 2004 when 41 people were killed and 80 injured after a high-speed train derailed in the northwestern province of Sakarya.


Turkey Detains 48 IS Suspects ‘Planning Attacks’

Iraqi rapid intervention forces advance as they take part in an operation against Islamic State (IS) group jihadists east of Tuz Khurmatu on February 7, 2018. The army, rapid intervention forces and paramilitaries, in coordination with Kurdish fighters and with Iraqi and coalition air cover, launched the operation “to chase away IS remnants,” said Iraq’s Security Information Centre.
Mahmud SALEH / AFP

Anti-terror officers in Istanbul and Ankara detained 48 alleged members of the Islamic State extremist group (IS) suspected of planning attacks, state media reported Saturday.

Police detained 31 foreigners who were picked up in anti-terror raids in Istanbul, state-run news agency Anadolu said, without specifying their nationalities, adding that they were believed to have been preparing an attack.

Another 17 people were taken into custody in Ankara over alleged ties to IS who were also accused of plotting an attack, the agency reported later on Saturday without saying when the raids took place.

Turkey suffered a series of terror attacks in 2015 and 2016 as well as one in 2017 blamed on IS and Kurdish militants, killing hundreds.

The last attack claimed by IS was in January 2017 when a gunman killed 39 people at the elite Istanbul nightclub Reina during New Year’s celebrations.

Police have since carried out frequent raids against IS across the country including in the northern province of Samsun on Wednesday when six Iraqis were detained on suspicion of being members of IS.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul earlier Saturday said Turkey had either remanded in custody or convicted 1,354 IS suspects.


Late Andrei Karlov’s Body Returns To Russia

Andrei Karlov, RussiaThe body of late Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador assassinated by a Turkish policeman in Ankara has been flown to his home country.

Karlov was shot nine times by 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, while he was giving a speech on Monday.

While police later “neutralised” the gunman, the Russian was rushed to hospital before his death was later confirmed by the Russian foreign ministry.

On Tuesday afternoon, his coffin was carried across Esenboga airport’s tarmac, draped in a Russian flag.

The dead was accompanied to a waiting plane, sent by Moscow, by an honour guard of six Turkish soldiers.

BBC had reported that the attack came a day after protests in Turkey over Russia’s military intervention in Syria.

It says the attack was apparently made in protest at Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.

US state department spokesman, John Kirby, said US officials were aware of reports about the attack on the ambassador.

“We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

Turkey Coup Attempt: Key Military Officers Arrested

Turkey Coup6,000 people including high-ranking soldiers have been arrested by Turkish police for their alleged roles in Friday’s failed coup.

A brigade commander and more than 50 soldiers were detained in the western province of Denizli earlier on Sunday as the country continues clean-up operations.

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says parliament will likely consider a proposal to introduce the death penalty.

At a rally late on Saturday, his supporters demanded that the coup leaders be executed. “Let’s hang them!” chanted the crowd in Ankara’s central Kizilay square.

The president has called on the US to extradite US-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who he accuses of being behind the plot but Mr. Gulen denies it.

Erdogan accuses followers of Gulen, who was once an ally but is now his arch-enemy, of trying to create a “parallel structure” within the courts, police, armed forces and media with an aim to topple the state.

The attempted coup left 161 civilians and 104 “plotters” killed and also more than 1,440 injured.

Impeachment Threat Is A Hoax – Garba Shehu

garba Shehu, Impeachment ThreatThe Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, has dismissed the impeachment threat by some members of the National Assembly as a hoax which exists in the imagination of mischief makers.

Mr Shehu made this remark exclusively to Channels Television in Abuja, while commenting on the recent failed coup attempt in Turkey.

Regarding the purported impeachment ‎threat on the President by the National Assembly, he emphasized the need for Nigeria to uphold its democracy.

Mr Garba Shehu commended the people of Turkey for rising up in defence of democracy.

He condemned those who attempted to take over government through violent means.

President Buhari had also earlier condemned the failed Turkey coup, “The removal of a democratic government by force is no longer acceptable. Violence can never solve any problem but only complicates them and sets back the progress of democratic societies,” he said.

He also offered Nigeria’s support to the government and people of Turkey in their hour of trial.

Military Attempts Coup in Turkey

Police-officers-Turkish-military-AnkaraA group within Turkey’s military has attempted to overthrow the government and security forces have been called in to “do what is necessary”, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Friday.

“Some people illegally undertook an illegal action outside of the chain of command,” Yildirim said in comments broadcast by private channel NTV.

“The government elected by the people remains in charge. This government will only go when the people say so.”

“Those behind the attempted coup would pay the highest price,” he added.

Footage on local television channels showed military vehicles blocking bridges over the Bosphorus in Istanbul and tanks deployed at the city’s main airport.

In the capital Ankara, warplanes and helicopters roared overhead.

A Reuters journalist heard gunshots.

A Turkish official who did not want to be named said soldiers had been deployed in other cities in Turkey, but did not specify which ones.

An army group had said that it has taken control of the country.

A statement from the military group read out on NTV television said: “The power in the country has been seized in its entirety.” Who represents the group remains uncertain.

Turkey Vows War On Terror

Turkey-President-Recep-Tayyip-ErdoganTurkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has vowed to bring terrorism “to its knees” after an attack in the capital, Ankara, killed at least 34 people.

Mr Erdogan said that the suicide car bomb would serve only to strengthen the resolve of Turkey’s security forces.

The explosion in Guven Park in the Kizilay district, a key transport hub, wounded at least 125 people.

Interior Minister, Efkan Ala, said an investigation would be concluded on Monday and those responsible would be named.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but there are suspicions that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) may have carried out the attack.

A BBC report says Turkey’s pro-Kurdish political party issued a statement condemning the attack. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said it shares “the huge pain felt along with our citizens.”

The HDP is frequently accused of being the political wing of the PKK, an accusation it denies, and of not speaking out against PKK violence.

In February, a bomb attack on a military convoy in Ankara killed 28 people and wounded dozens more.

The bombing was claimed by a Kurdish militant group, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK). It said on its website that the attack was in retaliation for the policies of President Erdogan.

At Least 28 Dead In Turkish Capital Explosion

Turkey-explosionA large explosion in the Turkish capital, Ankara, has left at least 28 people dead and 61 injured, Turkish officials said on Wednesday.

A vehicle full of explosives was detonated as military buses were passing by, according to the Ankara governor’s office.

The attack targeted a shuttle bus carrying military personnel, and there were several other military vehicles nearby – all of which were waiting at the traffic lights. Most of the casualties are believed to be soldiers.

The Turkish army strongly condemned the attack and called it “a treacherous terror act”.

The blast, which the Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag called an “act of terrorism”, happened in an area close to parliament and Turkey’s military headquarters, the BBC reports.

Large plumes of smoke were seen rising from the area and witnesses said the blast was heard all over the city.

Ambulances and fire engines were sent to the scene.

Security forces carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect package after the blast.

Turkey’s Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has cancelled a trip to Brussels.

Turkey has been hit by a serious of attacks recently, and there have been increasing concerns that the country could be targeted by another big attack, the BBC’s Selin Girit in Istanbul reports.

Hundreds of people have been offering their condolences to the relatives of the dead, condemning the attack, posting pictures and videos of the aftermath of the scene on social media.

In October, over a hundred people were killed in simultaneous explosions targeting a peace march in Ankara. That attack had polarised society further.

Turkey Sets New Border Camps For Syrian Refugees

Turkey-on-syrian refugeesTurkish aid workers have been setting up tents and distributing supplies for thousands of new Syrian refugees kept from entering Turkey at the border.

Some 35,000 people fled a Syrian Government offensive in the Aleppo area last week, trying to enter Turkey’s Kilis border region.

But Turkey had so far, closed the border to most of them despite appeals by EU leaders to let them cross. The country already shelters more than 2.5 million refugees from Syria’s war.

Meanwhile, analysts said that the EU was also giving mixed messages, calling one day for Turkey to allow in, those fleeing persecution, but the next voicing frustration that Turkey is not doing enough to stem the refugee flow to Europe.

Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, would be in Ankara on Monday to hold talks with the Turkish Government.

The BBC reports that in November, the EU clinched a deal with Turkey, offering it €3bn (£2.3bn; $3.3bn) to care for Syrian refugees on Turkish soil.

About 4.6 million people had fled Syria since the Civil War began in 2011.

Another 13.5 million were said to be in need of humanitarian assistance inside the country.

On Thursday, 60 donor countries, who had a meeting in London, pledged billions of dollars to ease the plight of Syrian refugees.

Europe Raises Security Alert In The New Year

EuropeIt’s less than 24 hours to the New Year major cities in Europe are intensifying security due to possible terror plots.

New Year fireworks and festivities have been cancelled in the Belgian capital, Brussels because of an alert.

Extra measures will also be in place in cities including Paris, London, Berlin and Moscow.

Meanwhile in Turkey, security services said they have prevented a major plot to attack Ankara.

Earlier this week, Austrian Police claimed a “friendly intelligence service” had tipped them off that major European capitals were at risk of being attacked during the holiday.