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Turkey foils 'NATO bomb plot'


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Police escort suspected Islamic militants from a courthouse in Bursa, western Turkey.
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ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- Turkish officials say police have foiled a bomb plot targeting a NATO summit in Istanbul that will be attended by world leaders including U.S. President George W. Bush.

Police have charged nine suspected members of Ansar al-Islam, a terrorist organization linked to al Qaeda, the governor of Bursa province said in a statement Monday.

The charges came after 25 suspected militants were taken into custody around the country.

Seven people have been released on bail after being rounded up in the northwestern Bursa province.

Nine others taken into custody in Istanbul were released, Turkish officials said.

Bursa governor Oguz Kaan Koksal said police confiscated a large number of weapons and bomb-making materials in the Bursa raid, 250 kilometers (160 miles) south of Istanbul.

He said officers seized about 4,000 CDs featuring training instructions from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Koksal said Ansar al-Islam had planned to carry out more attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq after the June 28-29 NATO summit.

NTV television said some of those held had already taken part in the insurgency in Iraq.

Authorities said the arrests were based on a year-long investigation, CNN correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh reported.

Turkish police have been stepping up security ahead of the summit in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city and commercial hub.

Istanbul suffered a series of devastating suicide truck bomb attacks in November targeting four British and Jewish sites in which 61 people were killed. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for those attacks.

NATO vowed the news of the alleged plot would not force it to reconsider its plan to hold the summit in Istanbul.

"The Turkish authorities are responsible for security and we have confidence in them," a spokeswoman told Reuters.


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