ISTANBUL – Turkey will put stringent security measures in place ahead of New Year’s Eve, including a ban on celebrations in some of the main spots in Ankara and Istanbul, to prevent a repeat of a deadly terror attack on a night club last year, officials said on Saturday.
Turkish authorities in Istanbul banned the traditional street celebrations in Taksim Square, with a large number of security forces to be deployed in there and in the adjacent Istiklal Avenue, the most frequented area of bars and shops in the city, according to city and police officials.
“After 8:00 pm, we will close the accesses to Kizilay and place entry controls in the four corners so that citizens can celebrate New Year there safely. All participants will be searched,” said Ankara governor, Ercan Topaca.
Similar restrictions are to be applied in the nearby Besiktas neighborhood, a lively hub for nightlife.
One year ago, a gunman from the Islamic State terror organization killed 39 people celebrating New Year’s Eve in the waterside Reina nightclub in Istanbul.
Large vehicles, such as trucks and concrete mixers, will not be allowed to enter eight districts of Istanbul from 8:00 am Dec. 31 until the same time on Jan. 1, the office of the mayor announced.
In Ankara, the traditional celebration in the central square of Kizilay is still set to take place, but police agents are to be deployed to search all people celebrating there, Topaca said.
The governor stressed that strict security measures are to be taken in train and metro stations, airports and shopping centers starting from early Saturday morning.
Topaca added that a total of 9,744 police agents are set to be deployed on New Year’s Eve in the Turkish capital.
Turkish police have recently intensified raids against IS networks in Turkey and arrested hundreds of suspects, many of them foreigners.
On Friday, security agents detained 46 people in Istanbul and about 30 in Ankara.
The detainees included people who were preparing for attacks on New Year’s Eve, according to police sources quoted by the state-run news agency Anadolu.