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Italian Police Break Up Turkish Terrorist Cell
Sabina Castelfranco
VOA, Rome
01 Apr 2004, 12:49 UTC

Italian police say they have broken up the terrorist cell of a Turkish leftist group with links to Italian extremists. Five people were arrested in Italy and raids were carried out in other European countries at the request of Italian investigators.

Three Italians and two Turkish nationals were arrested in morning raids carried out in the central city of Perugia. Police said they had not arrested Islamic militants but members of an outlawed Turkish group which, "has a strong organization with a Marxist-Leninist tradition."

Police officials said the arrests broke up a terrorist cell linked to the largest of Turkey's far-left organizations, the DHKP-C or Revolutionary People's Liberation Army/Front. The group has been on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations since May 2002.

Police said the Turkish cell had links with anti-imperialist groups in Italy. Among the Italians arrested was Moreno Pasquinelli, the spokesman for the Anti-imperialist Camp, a group opposed to the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq.

One of the Turkish nationals held is believed to have headed the cell. The DHKP-C is known to be responsible for a number of attacks against government officials, generals and police officials in Turkey. It has also targeted U.S. military personnel and diplomatic missions.

The illegal group has admitted to carrying out two suicide bombings in Istanbul in September 2001, which killed three police officers and a tourist. It aims to topple the Turkish government and replace it with a Marxist one.

At the request of Italian investigators, security forces in Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany raided alleged hideouts and arrested dozens of suspects.

Italy has been on high alert for acts of terrorism since the Madrid bombings on March 11. The Interior Ministry recently named Perugia as one of several Italian cities at risk for possible attacks by Islamic militants.