U.S. takes Turkish soldiers into custody

July 5, 2003 at 9:01 AM

ANKARA, Turkey, July 5 (UPI) -- U.S. troops in Iraq raiding Turkey's special unit office in Suleymaniye took into custody 11 Turkish soldiers, officials said Saturday.

Ankara protested the incident that took place Friday and asked for the immediate release of the Turkish soldiers.

"This is a very serious incident," deputy Chief of General Staff, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said.

"Such an act coming from a 50 year-old ally has shocked and deeply hurt us," he said.

The raid was set up after an allegation was made that the Turks were preparing an assassination against a Kurdish governor in Iraq, United Press International reported.

Late last night Turkey closed the Habur border gate at the Iraqi-Turkish border. Turkish officials said the closing was due to "heavy traffic" not in retaliation.

Last night Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul phoned his American counterpart, Colin Powell, who assured the safety of the soldiers, he said.

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