Just days after a major terrorist attack hit the Turkish capital, foreign embassies and consulates are warning their citizens to be cautious as the Kurdish-celebrated New Year, called Nowruz, approaches. While the U.S. has encouraged its citizens to “be mindful of their security precautions,” Germany has chosen to close its embassy and consulate for a second day over what are said to be credible threats.
“We have received very concrete intelligences over the fact that there have been preparations for terror attacks at German representation offices in Turkey,” German Foreign Minister Frank Walter said Thursday. “This was a necessary precaution for the protection of German citizens, and working people have priority.”
Nowruz, which marks the first day of Spring, is celebrated Thursday through Sunday in Turkey, as well as across several other countries in the Middle East and Central Asia. In Turkey, where it is celebrated primarily by Kurds, there is a political dimension to the holiday. In recent years, it has sparked confrontational demonstrations in the country’s restive southeast. Festivities have been banned this year in a number of provinces amid growing attacks by Kurdish militants.
Police reportedly found a bomb-laden car parked outside a government building Thursday in the Kurdish cultural hub Diyarbakir. Attacks in southeastern Turkey have become routine in recent months.
“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey and to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey. Due to threats from international and indigenous groups, U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling throughout the country,” the U.S. embassy said.
Earlier this week, the country’s capital was struck by a terror attack, carried out by the Kurdish militant group Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, better known as TAK. The suicide bombing — the third such attack in Ankara in five months — killed at least 37 people.
The warnings come as Turkey has grappled with threats posed by the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants, most notably the Kurdistan Workers' Party. In January, 10 German tourists were killed in an attack blamed on the Syria-based extremist group, also known as ISIS, in Istanbul’s major tourist district.