Turkey holds reporters 'for asking tough question' about IS

Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters are seen near the Akcakale crossing gate between Turkey and Syria on June 15, 2015 (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic) (AFP/File)

Istanbul (AFP) - Turkey on Tuesday briefly detained four journalists covering the seizure by Kurdish forces of the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad, reportedly because they asked the local governor a tricky question on Islamic State (IS) militants.

Hasan Akbas of the daily Evrensel, Cumhuriyet reporter Pinar Ogunc, Ozlem Topcu of German weekly Die Zeit and Deniz Yucel of German daily Die Welt were all detained, the reporters announced on Twitter.

They were held briefly and then released after an identity check, they said.

The journalists were working at Turkey's Akcakale border crossing, which saw a huge influx of refugees in the last days due to the fighting between Kurds and IS.

Turkish media reports, including in Cumhuriyet, said they had been detained at an outdoor briefing for asking the local Sanliurfa governor Izzettin Kucuk a question which he disliked.

Akbas and Yucel asked Kucuk if he had a statement on reports that the inhabitants of Akcakale had safety concerns over the alleged presence of IS jihadists in their town.

"Finished!" Kucuk was quoted as saying, before telling the police to "Take them!"

A Turkish official told AFP the journalists had not been arrested but briefly taken for routine identity checks before being released.

The incident caused a wave of outrage on Twitter, with users including Cumhuriyet's editor Can Dundar tweeting under the hashtag #nesoriymvalime (What do I ask my governor?).

Turkey has repeatedly been accused of collusion with IS, allegations its vehemently denies.

Cumhuriyet had led the accusations with repeated stories that it says show proof that Turkey delivered arms and even jihadists to IS.

Media rights groups -- which have long criticised Turkey's for locking up journalists -- have expressed concern over a further decline in press freedoms under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with dozens facing legal proceedings on charges of insulting him.