Turkish Police Arrest 46 Suspected Islamic Militants

Turkish police arrested 46 suspected Islamic militants in operations in five provinces across the country, authorities said Monday.

The state-owned Anatolia news agency said the suspects had ties to Al Qaeda, but police in Istanbul would not confirm that information, saying only that 46 militants were arrested in coordinated operations in the cities of Istanbul, Konya, Izmir, Kocaeli and Mardin.

In 2003, homegrown Islamic militants with alleged ties to Al Qaeda bombed two synagogues, a British bank and the British consulate in Istanbul, killing 58 people.

More than 70 Turks are on trial for their alleged roles in those attacks, though police say some suspected ringleaders have fled the country and others have died fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.

Many of those arrested in connection with the 2003 attacks acknowledge attending militant Islamist training camps in Chechnya and Afghanistan, but deny direct ties to the al-Qaida network.

The last major publicized crackdown on Islamic militants in Turkey, a 99 percent Muslim country, was in November, when police said they detained 10 militants with bomb-making materials during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.