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Afghan Authorities Detain Teachers, Raid School With Alleged Links With Gulen

Earlier this year in Turkey, suspected supporters of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen were escorted by plainclothed police officers.

Reports from Kabul say Afghan security forces have detained four teachers and raided a school allegedly linked to a U.S.-based cleric Ankara blames for orchestrating a failed coup last year.

Security forces detained one Afghan and three Turkish teachers while they were on their way to a girls high school in the morning of December 12, said Human Erdogan, the chairman of Afghan Turk CAG Educational NGO (ATCE), the organization that runs the school.

Officials who presented themselves as members of Afghanistan's intelligence agency -- the National Directorate of Security -- later went to the school looking for another teacher, Erdogan added.

Afghan officials have not immediately commented on the detentions or the raid, which sparked furor among students and their parents who claimed that the security forces entered the girls dormitory.

The moves came as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was on his way to Istanbul to attend a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

ATCE, which says it is an independent organization, runs schools in several Afghan cities including the capital, Mazar-e Sharif, Kandahar, and Herat. It has been in Afghanistan since 1995.

Ankara says the organization is linked to Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric the Turkish government blames for ordering a July 2016 attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Gulen denies involvement in the failed coup.

Turkey has pressured dozens of countries to clamp down on any groups linked with Gulen, whose religious and social movement operates around 2,000 educational institutions in about 160 countries.

In November 2016, Pakistani authorities deported dozens of Turkish teachers tied to the PakTurk chain of private schools following a visit by Erdogan.

And in October this year, Pakistan deported the Turkish former director of the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges along with his family, his former colleagues and a lawyer said.

Turkey said the organization was linked to Gulen. PakTurk denied that it had any affiliation with Gulen or his movement.

With reporting by Reuters and Tolo News
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