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Al-Qaida cell dismantled, Turkish official says

By Wire services
Published December 27, 2003

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Police arrests have dismantled an al-Qaida-linked cell believed to have carried out the Istanbul bombings that killed 62 people last month, a top official said Friday, but added that several leading members were at large abroad.

A Turkish court charged nine more suspects Friday, including an alleged top member of the cell, with involvement in the bombings. Forty-four people have been charged in last month's attacks.

Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler said authorities had captured most of the alleged terrorists involved in the attacks, which targeted two synagogues, a London-based bank and the British Consulate.

The attacks "were carried out by the elements of al-Qaida who were trying to create a structure in Turkey," Guler said. But "there is no need to fear. Any attack by this group here has totally been prevented. . . . This group is totally dismantled."

Cuba calls Guantanamo Bay base a "concentration camp'

HAVANA - Cuba charged Friday that the U.S. base on the east end of the communist island had become a "concentration camp," deriding its use as a holding center for terrorism suspects.

"In the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base, hundreds of foreign prisoners are subjected to indescribable humiliations," said a statement released Friday by Cuba's National Assembly.

Cuba has long opposed the presence of the American base, which operates under a treaty signed long before the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

Divers recover plane crash victims

COTONOU, Benin - Mourning relatives watched from a debris-littered shore Friday as divers retrieved bodies from a jet that crashed off the West African nation of Benin with 161 people on board.

More than 20 people, including the pilot, survived the Christmas Day crash. Dozens of others are missing and feared dead, officials said.

"I can't bear to think what has become of them," said Karim Jumblat, a Lebanese man waiting for news of three brothers who were heading home to spend the holidays with their parents.

The Boeing 727, carrying mostly Lebanese, clipped a building at the end of the runway and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, scattering bodies and debris along the beach and into the sea.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Jean Obeid, who flew to Cotonou on Friday, said 113 bodies had been recovered. There were 22 survivors, he said, including the pilot. Some who initially survived the crash later died.

Obeid said 151 passengers and 10 crew members were aboard the Union des Transports Africains plane.

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