The Latest: Germany closes Ankara embassy amid terror threat
ISTANBUL (AP) — The Latest on developments regarding Turkey (all times local):
Germany’s foreign minister says he decided to close the country’s embassy in Ankara and its consulate in Istanbul, as well as German schools in both cities, after authorities received a security warning Wednesday night.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Berlin on Thursday that there were “some very concrete indications that terrorist attacks were being prepared against our facilities in Turkey.”
Steinmeier says security is being increased at all facilities and authorities are trying to collect more information. He did not say how long the facilities would be closed.
The correspondent for German magazine Der Spiegel in Turkey has left the country after waiting unsuccessfully for three months for his press ID to be renewed.
German new agency dpa reported Thursday that German diplomats escorted Hasnain Kazim and his family to the airport to make sure he could leave the country safely.
Dpa said the Turkish government refused to renew Kazim’s press pass, making it nearly impossible for him to work there as a journalist. Spiegel couldn’t immediately be reached and it wasn’t clear when Kazim left the country.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is headed to the EU-summit in Brussels today for negotiations with Turkey, said in a speech to parliament Thursday that press freedom is one of the topics Germany needs to discuss with Turkey.
The German Foreign Office says its embassy in Turkey will stay closed due to a security warning.
The nature of the security warning was not described and it appeared that possible indications for the threat were still under investigation. In addition to the German embassy in Ankara, the German school in Ankara and the German consulate in Istanbul were also to remain closed on Thursday.
Turkey has been on high alert after several bomb attacks in recent months.
A Kurdish militant group has claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack in the Turkish capital which killed 37 people.
In a statement posted Thursday on its website, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons said the attack in Ankara was in response to Turkish military operations against Kurdish rebels in the southeast.
The Turkey-based group is considered an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and has carried out several attacks in the past including one in Ankara in February that killed 29 people.
More than 200 people have died in five suicide bombings in Turkey since July that were blamed either on the Kurdish rebels or IS.
(This item corrects that 29 people, not 28, were killed in the Ankara attack in February.)