April 20, 2015 / 6:04 PM / 2 years ago

Turkish police detain British family thought to be headed for Syria

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish police have arrested a British couple and their four young children on suspicion of seeking to travel to a part of Syria controlled by Islamic State militants, officials said on Monday.

Asif Malik, his partner Sara, and the four children - who are aged between less than 12 months and 7 years old - were detained at a hotel in an industrial district in the capital Ankara, a Turkish security official said.

British police said on Sunday the family had not been seen or heard from for almost two weeks and was thought to be heading to Syria. They appealed for information on their whereabouts after relatives voiced concern.

A British Foreign Office official confirmed that a couple and their children believed to be the missing family had been detained in Ankara and said British authorities were in touch with their Turkish counterparts.

The Turkish official said the family had crossed into Turkey by land via the town of Kirklareli near the Greek border on April 16 and that they had been detained after a tip-off from the British police.

Islamic State’s attempt to create a theocratic Sunni Muslim ‘caliphate’ by violent means has attracted thousands of recruits from Europe and elsewhere.

Britain’s security services estimate that some 600 Britons have gone to Syria or Iraq to join militant groups, including the man known as “Jihadi John”, who has appeared in several Islamic State beheading videos.

Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Dominic Evans

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