Turkey arrests would-be bombers fleeing to Syria - Erdogan

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish security forces detained would-be bombers trying to flee into Syria on Friday with 7 kilograms of explosives and they were believed to have been plotting a suicide attack, President Tayyip Erdogan said. Speaking amid heightened security and political tensions two days before a parliamentary election in Turkey, Erdogan also told AHaber TV in a live broadcast that Turkish forces had killed 2,000 militants in recent security operations. "(Security forces) caught a group who had been preparing a new terrorist attack (in Turkey)," Erdogan said, citing information from the interior minister. Turkey is still recovering from a devastating double suicide attack in the capital Ankara on Oct. 10, the biggest ever of its kind in the NATO member state, in which more than 100 people were killed. State prosecutors this week cited strong evidence that an Islamic State cell in the southeastern city of Gaziantep was behind that attack as well as a spate of other bombings. Prosecutors said the cell wanted the public to believe that the Turkish state was responsible for the Ankara bombing, which targeted mostly Kurdish activists, and thereby to legitimise attacks launched on the security forces by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group. Erdogan also said in Friday's broadcast that Turkey would continue to carry out military operations against militants after killing 2,000 at home and abroad in recent operations. Turkey has conducted attacks on Islamic State militants in Syria and also on Kurdish militant positions at home and in northern Iraq. (Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz and Melih Aslan; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Gareth Jones)