A total of 24 of around 50 suspects of Tajik and Uzbek origin, who were detained for having links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Istanbul on Oct. 18, have been revealed to be children being trained in basement apartments in Istanbul’s Pendik and Başakşehir districts, daily Vatan has reported.
The suspects were reported to have trained children in basement apartments in Pendik and Başakşehir, using the apartments as militant training camps, according to physical and technical surveillance collected by Istanbul Police Department Counterterrorism Unit officers before raiding 18 separate homes in Pendik and Başakşehir’s Kayaşehir neighborhood.
The suspects, mostly Uzbeks, who were detained in the Oct. 18 raids were reported to have lectured children on the basics of ISIL as well as how to live in an Islamic state.
In August, the Uzbekistan Islamic Movement, an al-Qaeda offshoot based near the Afghan border, announced allegiance to ISIL.
Uzbek intelligence sources reported that more than 5,000 paid Uzbek militants were fighting in Syria alongside ISIL.
Turkey has stepped up anti-terror police operations against ISIL militants in the country, as the Oct. 10 twin blasts in the Turkish capital sent shockwaves through the country, with at least 102 civilians dead and hundreds of others injured.
Thirteen ISIL-linked suspects have reportedly been detained so far within the investigation launched into the Ankara bombing.