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Turkish police uncover bomb plots

ISTANBUL — Turkish ­police said Thursday that they found evidence of an Al Qaeda-linked plot to bomb the US Embassy in Ankara, a synagogue in Istanbul, and other targets, during a raid on two houses in February.

Turkish news reports said nearly 50 pounds of plastic explosives with detonation systems were seized, as well as six laptops and other evidence. Twelve suspects were arrested — two Chechens, two Azeris, and eight Turks.

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The police gathered evidence about two terrorist cells, one in Istanbul and one in Tekirdag on the Sea of Marmara. Forensic analysis of the computers’ contents and other documents, officials said, revealed preparations for attacks on the embassy, the private Rahmi M. Koc museum, and a synagogue in Istanbul.

Photographs, floor plans, and other information were found concerning those targets and the residences and ­offices of two popular Turks.

The US Embassy issued a travel warning, but said the Turkish National Police had not provided specific threat information about the targets.

Police in Tekirdag had been monitoring a man said to belong to Al Qaeda who arrived in the city two years ago, after military training in Afghanistan. That surveillance led to the February raid, they said.

In 2008, three gunmen attacked security guards outside the US diplomatic mission in Istanbul in a shootout that left the assailants and three officers dead. The deadliest terrorist incident in recent Turkish history were in 2003, when 67 people were killed in attacks that were attributed to militants linked to Al Qaeda.

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