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Italy says disrupts Turkish armed group, arrests boss

Italian police transport organs in Lamborghini supercar
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Italian police said Wednesday they had disrupted a Turkish criminal operation “with terrorist purposes”, arresting 19 individuals including a major boss associated with recent attacks in Turkey.

Hundreds of police carried out the arrests in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Turkey, police said in a statement, targeting an alleged criminal conspiracy “aimed at setting up an association with terrorist purposes and committing terrorist attacks”.

In Turkey, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said 17 of those arrested were Turkish, including Baris Boyun, 39, known as the ringleader of a gang notorious for carrying out murders in Turkey, including via a motorcycle hit squad.

Italian police confirmed Boyun’s arrest.

The group is also suspected of murder, international drug trafficking, and aiding and abetting illegal immigration, the police statement said.

Two Italians were also arrested, Yerlikaya said of the joint operation between Italian and Turkish police.

Most recently in February, Boyun’s group was associated with an armed attack at an Istanbul campaign rally for a mayoral candidate from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP party, ahead of local elections in Turkey.

Turkey announced in March a major operation against the group, arresting 13 suspects in Turkey’s northwest province of Tekirdag suspected of planning assassinations and armed attacks.

Another eight suspects allegedly from the group were detained in April in Izmir, according to Yerlikaya.

In a statement, Milan prosecutors said investigators found the criminal group in Italy was “linked to other foreign ones, scattered over the European territory” all of them “connected with each other and able to support each other logistically, above all by guaranteeing weapons, men and means of all kinds.”

Police relied on a “complex” series of wiretaps on phones and in rooms for the investigation, which was assisted by Interpol.

Italian media said Boyun had been under house arrest in Viterbo, north of Rome, having been arrested in August 2022 on an international warrant.

An Italian court had earlier denied a request for his extradition to Turkey, news reports said.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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