By Muhammed Boztepe
ANKARA (AA) - Burglaries in Turkey have dropped 26.6% this year, the country's interior minister said Monday.
“In eight months of this year, the daily average of house breakings has decreased to 176,” Suleyman Soylu said, adding that the number was 240 in 2016.
He said burglaries have shown an overall decrease across metropolitan cities; 38% in Istanbul, 79% in Ankara and 56% in Izmir, after the government revived the watchman service in 2016.
“There are 19,600 newly recruited watchmen across the country,” he said, adding that the number will soon rise to around 30,000.
Also, he said more staff has been hired to fill in the vacuum left by dismissals of security personnel in 2013 and 2016.
“The number of people dismissed only by decree-law after Dec. 17-25  and July 15  within [Turkey’s] law enforcement agency is around 33,000. We are no longer short staffed,” Soylu added.
A graft probe was initiated in December 2013 and prominent figures of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) were detained for attempting to overthrow Turkey’s elected government.
“The number of active security personnel is now at 306,000,” Soylu added.
He said that the ministry focused on both personnel recruitment and their training after the 2016 defeated coup attempt, which was orchestrated by FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen. The coup bid left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Speaking about lasting peace in the Middle East, Soylu said there was a need to purge PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists inside the region and along Turkey's border.
“Reaching peace there [in Middle East] means the end of presence of PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists inside the region and right beside our borders,” Soylu said.
To reach this end, he said, Turkey has initiated a counter-terrorism operation, which most recently neutralized seven terrorists in southeastern Siirt province on Sunday and nine others in eastern Sirnak today.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
*Writing by Sena Guler