ANKARA, TURKEY: Six foreigners suspected of links to the ISIS group and accused of planning an attack against “state dignitaries” have been arrested in Turkey ahead of a visit by top EU officials, local authorities said Saturday.
The arrests took place overnight in Konya, in the centre of the country, as Turkey prepared for a visit by European Council head Donald Tusk and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Gaziantep, which borders Syria and territories controlled by ISIS.
The suspects “wanted to attack dignitaries of the state and strategic targets,” according to a statement from officials in Konya, a conservative city where police have carried out several raids on suspected jihadist circles.
“The operation has helped to thwart a possible attack,” it added.
Tusk, Merkel and the vice president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, are expected to visit a refugee camp during their trip to the country’s southeast, and hold a press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Their visit comes one month after the European Union clinched a deal with Turkey to help curb the flow of migrants into Europe, which saw Ankara accept the return of migrants from Greece in exchange for visa-free travel for its citizens.