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Turkey Police Arrest 4 in Slaying

May 14, 2000

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Police on Sunday said they have captured four Islamic militants suspected of the car bombing last year which killed a newspaper columnist.

The arrests in the killing of Ahmet Taner Kislali, came a week after police arrested nine other Islamic militants for the 1993 murder of another secular columnist, Ugur Mumcu. The government has been under intense pressure to shed light on the killings.

Police said all belonged to the same outlawed group, Tevhid-Selam, which is reportedly backed by Iran and aims to establish an Islamic rule in this secular but predominantly Muslim country.

One of the suspects, Necdet Yuksel, confessed to police that he planted the bomb on the windshield of Kislali’s car, the Anatolia news agency said.

Yuksel’s interrogation led police to seize a large amount of explosives and automatic weapons from a field near Ankara on Saturday, reports said.

Police later announced the arrest of the mastermind of the attack on Kislali, Ferhan Ozmen, in Istanbul. Two others were also captured.

Iran has denied any connection with the killings. Turkish authorities often accuse Iran of fueling Islamic fundamentalism in Turkey, an allegation which causes periodic friction between the two countries.

A separate Islamic group, the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front had also claimed responsibility for the Kislali attack at the time.

Kislali, a political science professor and former culture minister, was known for challenging radical Islam in Turkey through his column in the Cumhuriyet newspaper.

Mumcu, also a commentator for Cumhuriyet, was investigating suspected ties between mobsters, right-wing terrorists and the state. There have been allegations in Turkey that death squads once employed by the state to kill people seen as threats to national security may have been behind the assassination.

Update hourly