Turkish Interior Minister Resigns, Prime Minister Says

After a string of bombings and attacks blamed on ISIS and Kurdish insurgents that prompted public criticism, Efkan Ala's position is filled by the labor minister.

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim speaks to the press next to Interior Minister Efkan Ala at Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey, June 29, 2016.
Murad Sezer, Reuters

REUTERS - Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala has resigned, the country's prime minister said on Wednesday, following a string of bombings that prompted public criticism and concerns about intelligence failures before last month's failed coup.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim did not give a reason for the resignation in his brief statement broadcast on Turkish television channels.

But Turkey has faced a series of attacks blamed on ISIS and Kurdish militants, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters in July that there had been clear intelligence failures in preventing last month's failed coup attempt.

Turkey's Interior Ministry portfolio has been filled by Labor Minister Suleyman Soylu, the prime minister said.

The interior minister has a high profile role in a nation seeking to stop foreigners crossing the southeastern frontier to join ISIS in Syria. The minister is also on the front line of efforts to prevent militants infiltrating back into Turkey.

In addition, Turkey has been battling an insurgency by the Kurdish militant group PKK that is seeking autonomy in the southeast of the country. The group has launched a series of attacks since a ceasefire broke down last year.

The minister has been at the center of a campaign to root out sympathizers of the July 15 coup that sought to topple Erdogan and his government.

The Turkish authorities have removed from public duties about 80,000 people suspected of having sympathies with the plotters and with a U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom officials accuse of masterminding the putsch.

Earlier on Wednesday, the outgoing interior minister had released new figures about the number of people arrested in the Turkey's crackdown against ISIS militants.

Ala said 865 people had been arrested since the start of 2016 alone, and more than half of those were foreigners.

The new labor minister was named as Mehmet Muezzinoglu, a deputy chairman of Erdogan's AK Party.