- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ANKARA, TURKEY (AP) - Turkish police on Tuesday detained dozens of suspects accused of links to the al-Qaida terror network.

Anti-terrorism police wearing black ski masks and brandishing automatic assault rifles detained a suspect officials said had been to Afghanistan recently, along with his wife.

Officials said the suspect took over the leadership of a group suspected of affiliation with al-Qaida in the southern city of Gaziantep after the group’s leader was killed in a clash with police there last year. Three other suspects and one policeman were also killed.

Thirty-five other suspects were detained in raids in the cities of Sanliurfa, Kahramanmaras, Adana and Konya.

Dozens of Islamic militants from Turkey have had military training in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, Turkish officials say, and al-Qaida-linked suicide bombers killed 58 people in 2003. An attack blamed on al-Qaida affiliated militants outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul left three assailants and three policemen dead in July.

Al-Qaida’s austere and violent interpretation of Islam receives little public backing in the country. There are several other radical Islamic groups active in the predominantly Muslim but officially secular country.

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