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Turkey arrests suspected IS militants 'bound for Germany'

Eight people have been detained at Istanbul's main Ataturk airport, suspected of links to the "Islamic State" militant group. Authorities believe they may have been heading to Germany.

The eight men arrested late on Tuesday had arrived in Istanbul on a flight from Casablanca, Morocco, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said.

They were detained on suspicion of having links to the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group.

They told criminal profiling teams at the airport they would be staying at a hotel in Istanbul for a vacation, but officials found no evidence of their booking.

Citing police sources, Anadolu said the authorities found a drawing on one of those detained, outlining a plan to get to Germany by bus, boat and train.

The hand-drawn picture showed the route from Turkey to Germany, via Greece, Serbia and Hungary.

Authorities believe that the suspects may have been planning to head to Europe, posing as refugees.

Fears that jihadists had been planning such a move have increased after the discovery of a Syrian passport, registered in the Greek island of Leros, at the scene of one of last Friday's attacks on Paris.

Since the beginning of the year, Turkey has detained close to 1,000 people suspected of links to the jihadist network.

Many have been picked up in raids in southern areas close to the border with Syria and suspected of planning domestic attacks. Around 300 have been formally charged.

Turkey is a major transit route for the hundreds of thousands of migrants attempting to reach northern Europe, many of them fleeing the Syrian conflict. More than 2.2 million refugees are living in temporary camps close to the border with Syria.

The Ankara government has faced international criticism for not doing enough to prevent the country from being an entry point for IS militants heading to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Reports suggest that jihadist fighters and arms have crossed into the two war-torn countries from the porous Turkish border.

mm/jil (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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