Ankara: Turkey detained dozens of Kurds who crossed the border from the besieged Syrian town of Kobane on suspicion of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK), officials said Wednesday.
A local official in the Turkish border town of Suruc told AFP around 265 people were taken into custody for fingerprint identification after they crossed from the mainly Kurdish town under attack from IS jihadists.
"Their fingerprints will be identified entirely for security purposes. They could be members of the organisation," he said, referring to the PKK, as Turkey`s government refrains from calling the group by its name.
He said they had not been placed under formal arrest.
Turkey is hugely concerned that the standoff around Kobane could lead to the creation of a Kurdish fighting force overlapping the Turkish and Syrian borders.
The Syria-based Kurdish fighters of the People`s Defence Units (YPG) battling IS fighters are affiliated to the PKK militants who have fought the Turkish authorities for the last three decades in an insurgency that has claimed 40,000 lives.
"From now on, whomever comes from the other side of the border will be either from the PKK or the YPG. The country`s security is under consideration," the official said.
Kurdish officials earlier this week had said that all civilians had already fled Kobane.
Turkey has been preventing Kurds from crossing into Syria to join the fight against IS, infuriating locals and fuelling deadly protests across Turkey against the government`s policy on Kobane.
Idris Nahsen, a Kurdish official from Kobane who fled to Turkey after escalating clashes between Kurdish fighters and IS insurgents, put the number of detainees at 350.
"350 civilians crossed to Turkey overnight but the Turkish intelligence captured them, accusing them of links with the PKK," he told AFP by telephone.
He said the detainees, currently being held in two different schools in Suruc, burned blankets Tuesday night.
"If they are not released they will set fire to themselves," he said.