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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 December 2006, 14:32 GMT
Turkey seizes 'al-Qaeda members'
Pope Benedict XVI celebrates a mass at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Istanbul
The arrests were made during the Pope's visit, reports say
Ten people with suspected links to al-Qaeda have been arrested in Turkey, police have said.

Among them was a lawyer described as al-Qaeda's leader in Turkey, the state-run Anatolian news agency said.

It said the arrests were made during raids in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir at the start of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey in late November.

Police seized bomb-making equipment but found no evidence that the men were planning an attack against the Pope.

The police had been watching the suspects for a year and made the arrests after tracking e-mail exchanges on the purchase of bomb-making materials, the Anatolian news agency said.

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During the simultaneous raids in three cities police seized what they called a CD bomb which would explode if inserted into a computer.

Maps of an oil refinery near the western city of Izmir were also found.

The police swoop was carried out on 28 November, when the Pope was visiting Turkey, the agency said.

However, no evidence was found suggesting that the militants had planned to target the pontiff himself.

Some of the suspects are believed to be members of the Great Eastern Warriors Front (IBDA-C).

That group has it carried out the bombings of two Istanbul synagogues, the British consulate and a UK bank in the city in 2003, in which more than 50 people died.

Some 70 suspects are still on trial in Istanbul for the bombings.


SEE ALSO
Turkey bomb 'linchpin' on trial
20 Mar 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Turkey
25 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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