Turkish police detain 70 political agitators

May 1, 2011 at 11:48 AM
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ISTANBUL, Turkey, May 1 (UPI) -- Turkish police have detained 70 members of a group allegedly formed to cause agitation during demonstrations ahead of June's elections.

The groups, called Self-Defense Units, or OSB, were allegedly trained by the Kurdistan Workers' Party, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, to take advantage of social unrest and public protests, Today's Zaman reported Sunday. The arrests occurred Saturday in several towns, including Istanbul, Batman and Mardin.

Police said the OSB is a newly formed armed group organized to incite chaos in Turkey. Intelligence reports alleged the group gets its orders directly from jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who passes the information to his supporters through regular visits by his attorneys.

Authorities said the OSB also played a role during demonstrations in the mainly Kurdish cities in eastern and southeastern Turkey after the Supreme Election Board's decision last month to bar seven independent Kurdish parliamentary candidates from running in the June 12 elections.

The report said OSB members receive training on how to identify each other during demonstrations. Police said the OSB relies extensively on Internet and computer communications to plot their moves.

Each OSB unit comprises three members.

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