October 30, 2016: Citing extremist threats in Turkey, the United States has ordered family members of the U.S. consulate staff in Istanbul to leave the country as a safety precaution.
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The State Department said the evacuation order announced Saturday was based on intelligence showing extremist groups were continuing “aggressive efforts to attack U.S. citizens in areas of Istanbul where they reside or frequent.” No specific threats were listed.
Officials said the U.S. consulate in Istanbul would remain open and fully staffed despite the evacuations. The order is limited to Istanbul and does not apply to other U.S. diplomatic posts in Turkey.
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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a national state of emergency after a failed coup attempt by disgruntled military officers on July 15, and those emergency rules remain in effect. The coup attempt came two weeks after a terror attack by Islamic State suicide bombers killed 44 people and wounded 230 others at Istanbul’s international airport.
The State Department order was the second action this week seen as a warning to U.S. citizens. A travel warning issued Monday advised Americans to exercise caution while traveling in Turkey.
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The new travel advice was separate from a long-standing caution to Americans not to travel in southeastern Turkey, the site of recent attacks by Islamic State extremists and of ongoing fighting between Kurdish militants and Turkish forces. (VOA)