Erdogan to ask U.S. to extradite cleric

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that he would ask the United States to extradite an Islamic cleric he accuses of plotting to topple him and undermine Turkey with concocted graft accusations and
secret wire taps.

Fethullah Gulen, believed to have millions of followers, has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, when secularist officials raised accusations of Islamist activity. Since then, he has gone from being an ally of Erdogan to his most powerful political enemy. Gulen denies being behind a graft probe.

Asked by a reporter at parliament if a process would begin for Gulen’s extradition, Erdogan said: “Yes, it will begin.”

In an interview with PBS talk show host Charlie Rose broadcast late Monday, Erdogan said Gulen, who is seen as the biggest challenge of his 11-year rule, may also pose a threat to U.S. security by his activities.

— Reuters

Survey firm says it may have found jet

The countries looking for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 are working to assess the credibility of a survey company’s claim that it has found possible airplane wreckage in the northern Bay of Bengal, Malaysia’s defense minister said Tuesday.

The location is far from where the search has been concentrated for weeks in the southern Indian Ocean.

GeoResonance, which is based in Australia, stressed that a link to the plane, missing since March 8, was not certain, but it called for its findings to be investigated.

The company typically uses multispectral imaging, radiation chemistry and other technologies to look for oil, gas or mineral deposits before digging is begun. It used the same technology to look on the ocean floor for chemical elements that would be present in a Boeing 777, including aluminum, titanium and jet fuel residue.

— Associated Press

Government begins anti-militant mission

Tunisian security forces backed by jets and helicopters have begun a major operation to root out al-Qaeda-linked militants from a hideout in the Chaambi mountains bordering Algeria.

Thousands of troops have deployed in the remote area where the militants are holed up, some since a French military operation drove al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters out of Mali last year.

Islamist violence risks damaging Tunisia’s transition to democracy after its 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Some of those in Chaambi are tied to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the network’s North Africa branch.

— Reuters

Police detain 600 in Indian-controlled Kashmir: Authorities have detained more than 600 people in a crackdown on suspected separatists ahead of voting in a general election in Indian-controlled parts of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Only six members from India’s 543-seat Parliament are elected from Kashmir. Voting is being held over several days in the restive region so security forces can better guard the polls.

14 rebels reported killed in Philippines clashes: Officials in the Philippines said heavy clashes have broken out between government troops and Muslim militants trying to regain control of their captured camp in Sulu province, leaving 14 Abu Sayyaf rebels and one marine dead. A military spokesman said fighting that began late Tuesday continued until early Wednesday. Abu Sayyaf had links to international militant networks, including al-Qaeda, but a military crackdown has weakened it in recent years.

Fugitive Argentine priest accused of torture surrenders: A fugitive priest accused of torturing political prisoners during Argentina’s dictatorship turned himself in to Interpol in Paraguay, where he lives in a church retirement home. Aldo Omar Vara, 80, has been a fugitive for more than a year, since witnesses in a human rights trial accused him of torturing prisoners as an army priest in the 1970s.

U.N. watchdog to visit two uranium sites in Iran: The U.N. atomic agency will visit two uranium sites in Iran next week, Iranian news media reported, part of efforts to gain greater insight into Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. A senior inspector from the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit the Saghand uranium mine and the Ardakan milling plant, a spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy organization was quoted as saying.

— From news services