By Adem Koc and Halil Demir
The number of arrests in connection with a controversial televangelist rose to 179 Thursday as police in Turkey searched for those with suspected links to his cult-like organization.
Police were fired upon when they raided an address as part of simultaneous operations in four provinces, security officials carrying out the investigation said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
During the operations, they confiscated six truckloads of historical artifacts and antiques along with more than 400 memory sticks, 70 weapons, more than 3,000 bullets and considerable amounts of cash.
Police are now consulting with experts in order to determine whether the confiscated artifacts are authentic.
Following the arrests, other potential victims started coming forward to file complaints, the officials added.
Police are searching for 56 others in connection with Adnan Oktar, also known as Harun Yahya, who is on the Financial Crime Division’s most wanted list, according to security sources.
On Wednesday, police arrested Oktar along with 171 suspects after the Istanbul Court of Peace ordered the confiscation of 235 suspects' properties and also appointed a trustee to their companies, organizations and associations.
They also arrested Oktar Babuna, a medical doctor specialized in neurosurgery and a close aide of Oktar.
Oktar’s group has been accused of crimes including establishing a criminal organization, child sexual abuse, sexual intercourse with a minor, kidnapping, violating tax law and violating the anti-terrorism law.
Oktar owns a TV channel called A9, from where he broadcasts a show on religious and social issues surrounded by women he refers to as his “kittens".