From: Reuters
Published January 4, 2008 04:26 AM

Turkish police detain 40 in Hezbollah raid: agency

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police have detained more than 40 suspected members of the outlawed Turkish Islamist militant group Hezbollah, state news agency Anatolian said on Friday.

Operations against the group were carried out in Konya, Mersin, Diyarbakir and Istanbul, and all suspects were taken to Konya, the agency said.

It said the detained suspects were believed to have been involved in the group's past violent operations in Turkey.

A police official told Reuters the operation had taken place late last month and court proceedings against those involved were most likely to begin on Friday.

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Last year 30 members of the group, which is not believed to be linked to the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, were sentenced to life for a score of killings in the 1990s.

Hezbollah emerged in the late 1980s during fighting between Kurdish separatist guerrillas and Turkish troops. It killed scores of people, targeting mainly Kurdish separatist rebel sympathizers.

That prompted suggestions the group, which sought to replace Turkey's secular order with a state based on Islamic law, had state approval. But Ankara denied that was so, and launched a crackdown in 2000.

(Writing by Thomas Grove; Editing by Charles Dick)

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