Syria conflict: Austria police hold nine jihadist suspects

Isis militants in Anbar province Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Hundreds of European jihadists have joined Islamist State militants operating in Syria and Iraq

Nine people have been arrested by police in Austria on suspicion of planning to join Islamist militant groups in Syria.

The suspects were detained close to the country's border and were being questioned, reports from Vienna say.

The interior ministry said they were all Chechens with Russian citizenship who had been granted asylum in Austria.

Hundreds of European Muslims are known to have travelled to Syria to fight in the country's civil war.

EU member states are trying to prevent radicalisation at home and are also taking measures to tackle the security threat from jihadists returning from Syria.

Last May, four people were murdered at the Brussels Jewish museum. A French Islamist who had returned from Syria has been accused of carrying out the attack.

The nine people detained in Austria were arrested in the southern province of Carinthia and Burgenland in the west, reports said.

Police in Vienna were said to be deciding whether to remand them in custody.

If they are remanded, the interior ministry has said it will start the process of withdrawing their asylum status.

"There can only be a zero-tolerance policy against jihadists," Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner was quoted as saying.