Turkey Cracks Down on 'Turkish Hizbullah' Group

World | January 15, 2011, Saturday // 18:36|  views

Turkish police raided Saturday premises connected with the Turkish Hizbullah, a radical Kurdish Sunni Islamist group unrelated to the Shia Islamic Lebanese group Hezbollah even though it derives its name from it.

The police have arrested at least 17 men believed to be part of the group, according to the Anatolia news agency, which earlier reported a total of 32 detentions.

The raid came after people suspected to be senior members disappeared following their release from jail under a new law, reports the Hurriyet Daily news. The nine Turkish Hizbullah suspects are standing trial over charges of killing 188 people and attempting to set up an Islamic state

An arrest warrant was issued for the suspects Friday after they failed to report to the police as required, but the security forces could not track them down, Anatolia said. Their release in early January led to much criticism between the government and the judiciary over how the case should have been handled.

Media reports said Saturday the suspects might have escaped to Iran or Syria.

The Turkish Hizbullah, which is active mostly in Southeastern Turkey, made headlines in 2000 when police found some 70 bodies of its victims in mass graves across the country. The group has listed by Ankara as a terrorist organization that seeks to replace the country's secular system with a hardline Islamic regime.

Turkey's notoriously slow judicial system has long been criticized for keeping suspects in jail for many years, with trials sometimes dragging on for more than a decade.

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Tags: Hezbollah, Kurdish, radical Islamism, Turkish Hizbullah, turkey


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