Turkey to close Bosporus to tankers for NATO summit

Turkey to close Bosporus to tankers for NATO summit

Turkey will close the Bosporus, the critical link between the Mediterranean and Black seas, to tankers as part of unprecedented security measures for next week's NATO summit in Istanbul.

The massive security effort aims to prevent possible terrorist attacks in the city, the target of al-Qaida-linked militants last fall.

President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac are among the alliance leaders scheduled to attend the June 28-29 NATO meeting.

"NATO is a prime target because NATO brings together allies that includes al-Qaida's most hated Western foes," the Associated Press quoted Jonathan Stevenson, a senior fellow for counterterrorism at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, as saying.

Concerns about security have been growing in this city of 12 million since last November, when four suicide truck bombings killed more than 60 people. Prosecutors say a Turkish al-Qaida-linked cell carried out the attacks.

In recent weeks, authorities have launched security sweeps and scores of people believed to be linked to Islamic, Kurdish or leftist groups were detained.

As part of the security effort, the site of the summit will be closed to traffic. More than 23,000 police were assigned to protect the world leaders, meeting in a special summit zone that is a half-mile square, more than double the size of the Vatican.

Even those who live inside the zone will need passes to move around.

The Bosporus, which bisects Istanbul, will be closed to oil tankers and other dangerous cargo between June 27 and 29. In addition, a Czech anti-chemical warfare unit will be on duty in the city.