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Turkey: Al Qaeda Planned Attack on US Embassy

United States Ambassador to Turkey, Francis J. Ricciardone. US State Dept(ANKARA, Turkey) -- An al Qaeda plot to attack the U.S. embassy in Turkey was thwarted Wednesday when 15 suspected terrorists were arrested by Turkish authorities, the country's state news agency reported.

The Anatolia news agency, citing official sources, said in its report that anti-terror operations in three cities resulted in the arrest of the 15 individuals as well as the discovery of about 700 kilograms (1,550 pounds) of chemicals which could be used to make explosives and two automatic rifles. Police said the weapons were to be used in attacks on multiple locations, including the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Anatolia reported.

The Turkish Interior Minister confirmed the arrests Wednesday, according to Western media reports, but did not provide any more information about the alleged plot.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters he had no information about the threat to the embassy, but said the State Department is in touch with Turkish officials.

According to Anatolia news, Turkish anti-terror police had been on the trail of a prime terror suspect, identified only as C.I. for six months before making their move. C.I. was reportedly trained in bomb making and had established contact with an al Qaeda operative.

Though al Qaeda does not have as high of a profile in Turkey as in Somalia or Yemen; it has a well-established presence there. Last year, Turkish authorities rounded up 120 suspected al Qaeda members, according to a report by the BBC. Just last month, another 10 suspected al Qaeda militants were reportedly arrested in a southern Turkish town.

In 2010, Turkey suffered 40 terror attacks resulting in 22 deaths, according to the National Counter-Terrorism Center.

Representatives at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara were not immediately available for comment on this report.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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