Turkish police target leftists after U.S. embassy bombing

Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:30am EST
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By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Police arrested more than 100 people including union officials in raids across Turkey on Tuesday targeting a militant leftist group behind a suicide bomb attack on the U.S. embassy.

Turkey is an important U.S. ally in the Middle East with common interests ranging from energy security to counter-terrorism. Leftist groups strongly oppose what they see as imperialist U.S. influence over their country.

Tuesday's raids unfolded after a member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) blew himself up at an entrance of the U.S. embassy in Ankara on February 1, killing a Turkish security guard.

The DHKP-C, virulently anti-American and listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and Turkey, has staged a series of deadly attacks on police stations over the last six months.

Police issued arrest warrants for 167 people in 28 provinces across Turkey and by midday detained more than 100 people, among them Akman Simsek, a senior official from public workers union confederation KESK, state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

KESK, a leftist trade union group, demanded the release of their detained members, blaming the raids on an "empire of fear" created by the Islamist-rooted AK Party of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

"According to information obtained by our confederation, more than 100 people have been detained," KESK said. It did not say how many of those detained were members of the union.

"We will stand up against the fascist policies of the AKP government and will not bow down in front of the masters oppression and tyranny," it said. "Long live our struggle!"   Continued...

Turkish police forensic experts inspect the site after an explosion at the entrance of the U.S. embassy in Ankara February 1, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer