- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Police have detained 15 suspected al Qaeda militants who allegedly were planning to attack the U.S. Embassy in Turkey‘s capital, the nation’s state-run news agency said Wednesday.

Turkey‘s Interior Ministry confirmed the capture of suspected al Qaeda militants but would provide no other details about the case. The U.S. Embassy said it had no information about the arrests or the alleged plot.

Citing unidentified official sources, the Anatolia news agency said police captured the 15 suspects in Ankara, the western city of Bursa and the nearby town of Yalova, and seized 1,500 pounds of chemicals used in bomb making, two assault rifles, ammunition and maps of Ankara.

The suspects were planning to attack the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and unidentified foreign targets, the news agency said. They were brought to police headquarters in Ankara on Tuesday night and were being questioned by anti-terror police, the report said.

The police raids came after a six-month surveillance of a key suspect who is believed to have received training with arms and explosives and rented a two-story house in Sincan town on the outskirts of Ankara, Anatolia said. The police captured the suspect on a street of Sincan earlier this week to avoid a possible clash during a raid, the news agency said.

Turkish media have speculated that home-grown radical Islamic militants affiliated with al Qaeda are preparing to avenge the May 2 killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad by U.S. forces.

In June, Turkish police arrested 10 suspected al Qaeda militants in the southern city of Adana, which is home to the Incirlik Air Base, used by the United States to transfer noncombat supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan. Authorities have said Islamic militants tied to al Qaeda planned to attack Incirlik in the past but were deterred by high security.

Turkish authorities have said dozens of Turkish Islamic militants have received training in Afghanistan.

In 2003, homegrown Islamic militants tied to al Qaeda attacked the British Consulate, a British bank and two synagogues in Istanbul, killing 58 people.

In 2008, an attack blamed on al-Qaeda-affiliated militants outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul left three assailants and three policemen dead.

Al Qaeda’s austere and violent interpretation of Islam receives little public backing in Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but officially secular country, but several other radical Islamic groups also are active in Turkey.

Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.

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