Turkey faces new threat from old Marxist group

Monday, April 5, 2004

ANKARA Turkey has reported a new insurgency threat from a banner Marxist organization.

Officials said security agencies have warned of a threat to Turkish military and civilian targets from the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front. The banned Marxist group, known as the DHKP-C, was responsible for numerous attacks on civilian and military targets in the 1990s.

So far, Turkey and European Union states have captured about 50 insurgents from the DHKP-C. The latest arrests were reported on Saturday when Turkish police arrested eight suspected members, Middle East Newsline reported. In all, about 50 DHKP-C members were arrested across Europe in a series of coordinated raids last week.

The group claimed responsibility for bomb attacks in Istanbul in 2003 in which nobody was hurt. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has placed the DHKP-C on its list of organizations deemed terrorist.

Officials said DHKP-C has been planning a series of bombings against the ruling Justice and Development Party, including targeting the prime minister and justice minister. The group also targeted the military, police officers, prosecutors and public buildings.

In late October, four suspected members of the DHKP-C were arrested and charged with participating in the insurgency plot. Officials said the suspects were arrested in an insurgency stronghold in Istanbul.

Three of the suspects were identified as Celal Yayla and Ramazan Yetkin and Zeki Eken. They were said to have been explosives experts for the DHKP-C and had been assembling bombs. Explosive material and documents were found in an Istanbul safe house.

Officials said Yayla was trained in Greece to assemble explosives. Ankara has accused Greece of harboring insurgents of both the DHKP-C as well as the larger Kurdish Workers Party.

In a related development, an Islamic insurgency leader was sentenced on March 25 to 20 years in prison upon conviction of producting bombs and weapons. The insurgent was identified as Salih Izzet Erdis, head of the Islamic Great Raiders Front, known by its Turkish acronym IBDA/C. Erdis has already been sentenced to death, but helped plan insurgency attacks in prison.

Erdis was one of 52 Islamic defendants sentenced by a state security court in Istanbul. Erdis and Ali Osman Zor were sentenced to 20 years each for manufacturing bombs and weapons.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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