Reuters International

Turkey's Interior Minister Efkan Ala attends a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara July 22, 2014. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo


ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala has resigned, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday, following a string of bombings that prompted public criticism and concerns about intelligence failures before last month's failed coup.

The prime minister 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 Islamic State and Kurdish militants, and President Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters in July that there had been clear intelligence failures in preventing last month's failed coup attempt.

The Interior Ministry portfolio has been filled by Labour Minister Suleyman Soylu, the prime minister said.

Soylu said a day after the coup bid that it was clear "America is behind it", though Erdogan's spokesman later said he had spoken "in the heat of the moment".

The interior minister has a high profile role in a nation seeking to stop foreigners crossing the southeastern frontier to join Islamic State 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 centre of a campaign to root out sympathisers 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 Islamic State militants.

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

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

(Reporting Asli Kandemir and Nick Tattersall; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Ralph Boulton)


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