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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Turkey bans New Year celebrations at Taksim Square

Ismail Kilic, local police chief of Istanbul's Beyoglu district, said security measures had been doubled this year following a string of attacks over the past two years

A woman lays flowers by a makeshift memorial in front of the Reina nightclub in Istanbul on January 17, 2017, a day after Turkish police arrested the suspected attacker. The club has since been demolished. Ozan Kose / AFP
A woman lays flowers by a makeshift memorial in front of the Reina nightclub in Istanbul on January 17, 2017, a day after Turkish police arrested the suspected attacker. The club has since been demolished. Ozan Kose / AFP

Turkish authorities will not allow New Year celebrations at Istanbul's iconic Taksim Square for security reasons, state media reported on Wednesday, quoting local officials.

Ismail Kilic, local police chief of Istanbul's Beyoglu district, said security measures had been doubled this year following a string of attacks over the past two years.

"Measures for New Year will be at the highest level," he was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Turkey has suffered a series of terror attacks attributed to Kurdish militants and ISIL, including a shooting at Istanbul's popular Reina nightclub on New Year's Eve last year in which 39 people were killed.

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Read more:

Trial opens of Istanbul New Year massacre gunman

Istanbul demolishes Reina nightclub targeted by ISIL in New Year

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Images released by police during the manhunt for the attacker were taken from a chilling silent video that Abdulgadir Masharipov purportedly took on Taksim Square with a selfie stick, before going to the elite waterside nightclub to carry out the attack.

"We will double the measures because the Reina assailant changed his location having seen the measures at Taksim," Mr Kilic said.

After his capture in a police raid, Masharipov, an Uzbek citizen, confessed to the shooting and reportedly said he was ordered to scout for a new target by ISIL leaders as Taksim was not suitable for an attack.

The suspect said he later took a taxi for a tour along the shores of the Bosphorus at around 7pm GMT when he spotted the Reina nightclub. "It didn't look like security measures were high," he said.

ISIL took responsibility for the assault, the first time it has openly claimed a major attack in Turkey.

Of the 39 people killed in the Reina attack, which took place just 75 minutes into 2017, 27 were foreigners, including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco.