Turkish police foil Syrian attempt to abduct opposition figure

Turkish police foil Syrian attempt to abduct opposition figure

Five suspects, one of whom was a MİT regional official, were detained for their alleged links to the abduction of Syrian defectors in this September 2012 file photo. (Photo: Cihan)

January 30, 2013, Wednesday/ 12:25:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The police foiled an attempt to abduct a Syrian opposition figure residing in the southern province of Hatay and detained eight people, including three Syrians, officials said on Wednesday.

The Syrian opposition figure, reportedly a lawyer, was rescued following clashes early Wednesday morning between the police and the kidnappers in a forested area near the Turkish-Syrian border, a statement from the Hatay Governor's Office said. The police and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), acting on an intelligence tip, cooperated to foil the abduction, according to the statement.

Two of the three Syrians captured were injured during the gunfire while a fourth one managed to escape to Syria.

The statement did not say if the other detainees were Turks. Earlier in the day, Hatay Governor Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz revealed that some Turks may have also been involved in the attempted abduction, adding that the incident is being investigated thoroughly.

Quoting an unnamed official from the Hatay Governor's Office, The Associated Press reported that the detained Syrians had entered Turkey legally with their passports, while the Anatolia news agency had earlier reported that they had crossed the border illegally. Anatolia said the four Syrians had tied the hands of the lawyer and transported him to a border gate in the town of Yayladağı in a vehicle to cross back into Syria.

Turkey, which shares a 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with Syria, is serving as a base for opposition activists and fighters and there have been other reports of abductions or attempted kidnappings of Syrian opposition figures.

A similar incident also took place in 2011 when Syrian military defector Col. Hussein Harmoush was abducted from a refugee camp in Altınözü, Hatay province, near the Syrian border and was handed over to the Syrian authorities.

Five people, including a former Turkish intelligence official, are on trial in Turkey for allegedly abducting Harmoush.

Harmoush had defected and fled to Turkey in June but returned to Syria under unclear circumstances in September.

Weapons seized in Syrian's car at Akçakale border gate

Units from the Akçakale Area Headquarters for Customs Smuggling and Intelligence seized weapons from a car crossing through Şanlıurfa's Akçakale border gate with Syria on Wednesday.

Forty hunting rifles, 2,500 bullets, 104 chargers, 70 gun scopes, 5,000 cell phone batteries and 1,250 vehicle chargers were found in the car after a search by the units.

The two Syrian citizens in the car, A.A and H.A, were arrested under suspicions of smuggling.

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