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Turkey arrests 10 suspected IS members near Syrian border

A Japanese national was also seized in a separate raid by authorities
Turkish police push people away after an explosion on the pedestrian Istiklal avenue in Istanbul (AFP)

Turkish security forces on Tuesday arrested 10 suspected Islamic State (IS) members at the Syrian border, one of whom was wearing an explosives vest, three days after a suicide attack in Istanbul, officials said.

The local governor's office said two of the foreign nationals arrested in the southern Gaziantep province were injured in an exchange of gunfire with Turkish troops. Three others managed to flee the scene.

One of those captured wore an explosives belt, which was ready to be detonated, the governor's office said.

In a seperate incident Turkey has detained a Japanese citizen in the south of the country on suspicion of seeking to cross the border into Syria to join Islamic State (IS), the Dogan news agency said on Wednesday.

The young man aged 24, named as M.M., was detained late on Tuesday in the Nizip district of the southern city of Gaziantep, close to the Syrian border.

According to Dogan, he had admitted to wanting to travel to Syria after getting to know an unnamed contact by telephone and then agreeing the cross the frontier.

He will be deported from Turkey back to Japan once the investigation is completed, the agency added. The arrest of a Japanese citizen is hugely unusual, as most of those detained seeking to cross the border come from countries with large Muslim populations

Ten suspects revealed 

The Dogan news agency published pictures of the suspects in the main raud on their knees with their hands behind their heads, along with what appeared to be an explosives belt.

Turkish police arrested three other suspected fighters in Istanbul - a Turk, an Iraqi and a Syrian - the state-run Anatolia press agency reported.

The arrests come days after the Turkish interior ministry blamed a Turkish IS member for a suicide bombing which killed five people in Istanbul, including two American-Israelis and an Iranian.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala on Sunday named Mehmet Ozturk as the bomber who killed five and injured 36 others in Saturday's blast in the busy Beyoglu district of the city.

Turkish authorities said that two additional Turkish suspected members of an IS cell are believed to be planning further attacks in public places after the attack in Istanbul on Saturday.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but Turkey's government said Ozturk had links to IS fighters.

IS has been blamed for four of six bombings that have rocked Turkey in the past eight months, including a massacre at a peace rally in the capital Ankara in October that claimed 103 lives.

A rogue, hardline offshoot of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), with which the state is at war in southeast Turkey, claimed the other two attacks.

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