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Three more held in Turkey attacks probe
( 2003-11-27 10:49) (Agencies)

Three more suspects were arrested Wednesday in connection with the twin bombing attacks on British targets in Istanbul last week in which more than 30 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

It was not immediately known what charges would be brought against the suspects, defense lawyer Selahattin Karahan said. The state security court freed 15 others who were being held in the probe.

Two suspects are escorted to to be questioned by prosecutors, in Istanbul, November 26, 2003.  [AP]
Tuesday, nine people were charged with belonging to or aiding and abetting an illegal organization in the investigation into the bombings at the British consulate and the Istanbul offices of London-based banking giant HSBC.

Eight people have also been charged with involvement in the bombings of two Istanbul synagogues five days earlier, and officials said several more were in police custody.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Britain of not sharing intelligence about possible future attacks with Turkish authorities after London said Tuesday that "further attacks may be imminent" in Istanbul and the capital Ankara.

Australia issued a similar alert Wednesday.

"If there is a common platform against international terrorism, this information must be given to the concerned country. If the source for this kind of information is sound... it should not be given to the media," Erdogan told reporters late Tuesday in comments carried by private NTV television.

"There is a watering down of intelligence here," he said.

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman told Reuters Britain conveyed information to countries where a threat occurred to reduce the risk of an attack. "We have been working closely with the Turkish authorities on counter-terrorism issues," she said.

Groups linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network claimed responsibility for the November 20 suicide attacks on the British targets, as well as similar coordinated bombings at two synagogues in which 25 people died the previous week.


A third HSBC employee has died, the bank said in London on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear whether the employee was among a death toll of 32 people.

Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler was quoted by Anatolian news agency as saying more detentions were expected.

"Naturally there have been more arrests according to the information collected by police, and more will follow," he said.

Police in Istanbul, a city of more than 10 million people, conducted spot checks on vehicles crossing a suspension bridge connecting the Asian half of the city with Europe.

An armored police vehicle sat outside Istanbul's international airport, and security personnel searched some bags before allowing passengers to enter terminals.

Counter-terrorism experts in the eastern city of Bingol, where the suicide bombers came from, were questioning families whose children were believed to be associated with radical Islamic elements, a senior security officer told Reuters.

Authorities were trying to track down residents who had left Bingol and might have trained overseas.

The impoverished city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast was a hotbed for Islamic fundamentalism in the 1990s. It has also been hard hit by the deprivations of a separatist Kurdish conflict that has claimed more than 30,000 lives since 1984.

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