Dutch close consulate general in Istanbul

Posted at 7:09 AM, Mar 23, 2016

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government temporarily closed its consulate-general in Istanbul on Wednesday because of a "possible terror threat" and advised its citizens to avoid the area, which is close to the scene of a suicide bombing that killed four foreign tourists on Saturday.

The ministry issued a brief statement announcing the closure, calling it a precautionary measure, but gave no details of the nature of the threat.

"The security of my staff and visitors ... has our highest priority," Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said in a statement. "We cannot, for obvious reasons, give further details of the nature or the threat or the information it is based on."

The announcement came just days after a suicide bomber identified as a militant with links to the Islamic State group, targeted the area.

Saturday's explosion also wounded dozens of people. Among the fatalities were two American-Israelis, another Israeli and an Iranian. The attack targeted Istanbul's pedestrian Istiklal Street, which is lined with shops and cafes in an area that also has government offices and foreign missions, including the Dutch consulate-general.

On Tuesday, Turkish security forces in cooperation with German intelligence detained three men, including an Iraqi and a Syrian, suspected of planning another attack in Istanbul. The Turkish private Dogan news agency said the trio was plotting to target the German consulate and German school in Istanbul.

The Dutch foreign ministry said 40 staff members were evacuated following Wednesday's closure.