Turkey seizes al-Qaeda suspects

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Police in Turkey have arrested 12 people suspected of links to Islamist militant network al-Qaeda in Istanbul and Van province, local media report.

They picked up the suspects in two simultaneous operations and are holding them on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks, officials said.

Weapons, bomb-making items, explosives and digital devices were found.

While Turkey has a history of terrorist attacks, al-Qaeda is not thought to have a strong presence there.

However, in January police arrested more than 150 people suspected of al-Qaeda links in cities including Ankara and Istanbul.

Similar raids were also carried out in 2009 and 2008.

Some Turkish al-Qaeda members have been killed or captured in neighbouring Iraq, and some are known to have been trained in Afghanistan.

But al-Qaeda militants in Turkey are usually believed to come from Arab countries, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Turkey's militant activity is usually linked to Kurdish separatism or, more rarely, the extreme left.

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