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Turkish Police Detain Al-Qaeda Suspects In Widespread Raids

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish police have detained 120 suspected members of Al-Qaeda, possibly including senior members, the state Anatolian news agency reported today.

The raids in 16 provinces including Istanbul followed the arrest earlier this week of 25 suspected Al-Qaeda members.

Devices to make explosives, fake identity cards and passports, and camouflage smocks were seized in the raids.

Turkish media said one of those detained was believed to be the head of Al-Qaeda in Turkey, Serdar Elbasa, known by the codename Abu Zer.

Another suspect was the chief of the Al-Qaeda network in Gaziantep Province, bordering Syria. One suspect was trained in Afghanistan, Anatolian said.

Police carry out sporadic operations against militant groups in Turkey including Kurdish separatists, far left and extreme nationalist groups.

Al-Qaeda has carried out attacks in Turkey, notably in 2003 when the militants killed more than 60 people in a series of bombings in Istanbul.