Turkish capital bans public meetings due to militant attack fears

October 18, 2016 1:44 AM EDT

Members of police special forces keep watch from an armored vehicle in front of the Justice Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo


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ANKARA (Reuters) - Authorities in the Turkish capital Ankara have banned public meetings and marches until the end of November after receiving intelligence that militants were planning attacks in the city, which has been targeted with bombings over the past year.

The ruling, announced by the Ankara governor's office, came as Turkey pursued a near two-month-old military operation in Syria in support of rebels to drive Islamic State militants away from its southern border.

Islamic State and Kurdish militants have carried out attacks in the capital. This month two suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members believed to be planning a car bomb attack blew themselves up in a standoff with police in Ankara.

"Based on intelligence received by our governorship, it has been determined that illegal terror groups are aiming to carry out attacks in our province and have made some preparations," the governor's office said in a statement on its website.

It said there were fears that public meetings and protests in Ankara province, an area encompassing the city and surrounding towns, were being targeted by militants.

The ban was set to remain in place until Nov. 30 under an emergency rule law. Emergency rule was imposed after an attempted coup on July 15.

Just over a year ago, more than 100 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack blamed on Islamic State at the city's train station.

Kurdish militants were blamed in March for a car bomb which tore through a transport hub in Ankara, killing at least 34 people in the second such attack in under a month.

While Turkey's army continues operations in northern Syria, Ankara says Turkey-trained forces are also participating in an assault to push IS out of the Iraqi city of Mosul.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)



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