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U.S. Warns Citizens of Increased Threats in Turkey | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Turkish police officer stands guard near the Reina nightclub in Istanbul, January 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Ankara- The United States has renewed its warning to American of potential attacks in Turkey, stressing that an increase in anti-American rhetoric could inspire violent acts.

The State Department said “U.S. citizens are warned of increased threats from terrorist groups in Turkey.”

“An increase in anti-American rhetoric has the potential to inspire independent actors to carry out acts of violence against U.S. citizens,” it said in a travel warning that was also issued by the U.S. embassy and consulates in Turkey.

“In 2016, numerous terrorist attacks involving shootings, suicide bombings, and vehicle-borne bombings in tourist areas, public spaces, private celebrations, sporting events, and government, police and military facilities throughout Turkey resulted in hundreds of deaths. The most recent attacks included a mass shooting at the Istanbul Reina nightclub on January first, and simultaneous suicide bombings near Istanbul’s Besiktas/Vodafone Soccer Stadium on December 10, 2016.”

The statement said that a decision taken in October last year to direct family members of employees posted to the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul to depart Turkey temporarily remains in effect.

It advised American citizens to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, in particular large, urban centers near the Turkish/Syrian border and stay away from large crowds, including at popular tourist destinations.

Meanwhile, nine people, including seven Russian citizens, have gone on trial on charges of belonging to ISIS and plotting terrorist attacks in Istanbul by using drones.

According to Hurriyet daily, if convicted, the suspects could receive sentences of up to 15 years in jail.

The newspaper quoted investigation sources as saying that the defendants brought the explosives from southeast Turkey.

Regarding the probe into the Reina nightclub attack, Hurriyet said that according to newly emerged information, police lost time after receiving conflicting reports regarding the assault and the number of assailants.

Several of the witnesses told police that there were three attackers involved and that some fired on people with pistols. After investigating the footage in Reina, police determined that the attacker Abdulgadir Masharipov, 34, was alone and escaped from the nightclub by taking advantage of the chaos.

The Uzbek national then boarded a taxi but left his jacket and Kalashnikov at the scene. There was also a total of 500 Turkish Liras (150 dollars) in the jacket.

Footage showed the Reina attacker boarding a taxi from Ortaköy and disembarking before boarding another to head to Istanbul’s Ulus neighborhood. After traveling around on foot for a while, Masharipov entered the garden of a house in Ulus. He was attacked by a dog there, but after struggling with the dog, he managed to escape and reached the street. He got on the first taxi that passed before getting out close to the Zincirlikuyu metrobus station. He then got on another taxi to head to Zeytinburnu.