February 5, 2015 / 3:14 PM / in 3 years

Turkey detains five suspected Islamic State members this week: army

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish authorities have detained a man alleged to be a member of Islamic State in the southeastern city of Gaziantep, the army said on Thursday, bringing the number of suspected militants seized this week to five.

The announcement comes after months of criticism from Ankara’s Western partners over its perceived reluctance to crack down on Islamist fighters using the country to travel into neighboring Syria.

“Security forces caught a Daesh member (on Wednesday) in Gaziantep. A judicial process has been started,” the Turkish General Staff said in a statement on its website, employing an acronym for Islamic State widely used in the region.

On Monday, four people thought to be Islamic State members were apprehended by security forces during traffic control in Gaziantep’s Oguzeli district, a separate army statement said.

The nationality of the detainees was not clear.

Turkey’s 900km-long border with Syria has proved difficult to police since the start of the Syrian conflict nearly four years ago. Critics have suggested Turkey is reluctant to tackle the problem of extremists for fear of becoming a target.

Turkey has opened its doors to nearly 2 million people who have fled the conflict in Syria, but it has so far played only a minor role in the fight against Islamic State. Officials cite disagreements over strategy and security concerns as reasons.

The city of Gaziantep, which lies around 50km from the border, has developed into a hub for aid workers responding to the humanitarian fallout in Syria.

Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Jonny Hogg; Editing by Daren Butler, Larry King

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