Mursitpinar: Turkey detained dozens of Kurds who crossed the border from the besieged Syrian town of Kobane on suspicion of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK), officials said on 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, which is under attack from Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
"Their fingerprints will be identified entirely for security purposes. They could be members of the organisation," he said, referring to the PKK, which Turkey`s government refuses to name.
He said they had not been placed under formal arrest.
"This is a routine procedure we had also applied to Turkmen soldiers who fled to Turkey," he added.
Turkey fears the standoff around Kobane could lead to the creation of a Kurdish fighting force overlapping the Turkish and Syrian borders.
Syria-based Kurds fighting with the People`s Defence Units (YPG) against IS 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. We are talking about the country`s security," the Turkish official said.
Kurdish officials earlier this week said all civilians had already fled Kobane. The Turkish government has prevented Kurds from crossing into Syria to join the fight against IS, infuriating locals and fuelling deadly protests across Turkey.
Idris Nahsen, a Kurdish official from Kobane who fled to Turkey after escalating clashes between Kurds and IS insurgents, said hundreds had been detained after crossing the border.
"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 on Tuesday night and were threatening to set themselves on fire.
One of those detained, Mustafa Bali, another former official from Kobane who crossed into Turkey last week, said many detainees were on hunger strike.
"The civilians, including journalists, women, children and other men were arrested and placed in a hall," he said.
"We have been under arrest for three days. The YPG asked us to evacuate the city because they declared Kobane a military zone and the Turkish authorities took us to this hall in Suruc," he said, adding that they were barred from going outside.
"We are packed in here, with no air. They don`t open any windows or doors. Four people got sick because of the inhumane conditions."
The Turkish official however denied a hunger strike, saying that the detainees refused to eat only Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, the Turkish army said it had seized three Kalashnikovs from a group of five YPG "terrorists" who were travelling across the border from Syria to Turkey.
Bali said the army was now assuming that any Kurd still remaining in Kobane was a YPG fighter.
"They ask us why we fled, accusing us of belonging to YPG. We are supposed to be refugees but they don`t set us free."