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Turkish authorities have arrested five people suspected of planning bomb attacks in a town near the border with Syria.
Local authorities in the southern province of Hatay said on Saturday that the five, who included three Syrian nationals, were arrested before they could reach the center of the town, where they were allegedly planning to carry out bombings.
The local governor’s office said in a statement that two of the suspects had been wearing vests containing explosives. It said the vests were ready to be detonated.
Turkey’s southern border with Syria has been volatile since conflict gripped Syria six years ago. The Arab country has repeatedly accused Turkey of turning a blind eye to activities by militants along the border, saying terrorists have been able to move weapons and recruits across the frontier with impunity. Ankara denies the allegation and says it has done its best to fight back militants.
Turkey is part of a Western-led coalition which claims to be fighting Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Syria. It sent troops to Syria last year to help local militants in the fight against Daesh, although many saw the move as an action against Syria’s Kurdish militants, who are allied to Western forces but accused by Ankara of helping insurgency inside Turkey.
Reports on Thursday said the Turkish military had deployed reinforcements to northern Syria in a bid to beef up security there.
Turkish authorities would not elaborate the five suspects arrested on Saturday belonged to which terror group. Ankara has previously blamed Daesh as well as Kurdish militants for major bomb attacks across Turkey.
Turkey’s shared border with Syria has also been the scene of a massive military crackdown against Kurdish militants. Ankara says thousands of militants have been killed in operations over the past two years, a claim challenged by rights activists, who say many of those killed have been Kurdish civilians living along the border.