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43 dead in Turkey car bombings near Syria


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Khawla Sawah, the medical director of the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations in Reyhanli, said the town’s main hospital was full and many of the wounded were taken to the nearby city of Antakya and to a clinic set up by the Syrian medical relief group on Reyhanli’s outskirts. The center received 11 wounded, including one Turk and 10 Syrians.

She said some of the injured told her that the cars that exploded had Syrian license plates.

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Both Sawah and another witness, Suzan Alhasoglu, said the incident raised tension in Reyhanli with angry youths attacking Syrians cars and other targets.

"The authorities are asking Syrians to stay home and not drive around in Syrian cars," Sawah said. "Syrian doctors at the Reyhanli hospital were asked to go home too."

Turkey’s military released a statement condemning the attack and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed from Berlin that Turkey would act.

"Those who for whatever reason attempt to bring the external chaos into our country will get a response," he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a statement condemning the "murderous attack" in Reyhanli and said Washington "stands with the people and government of Turkey to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice."

The main Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, condemned the attack and said it stands together with the "Turkish government and the friendly Turkish people."

The coalition sees "these heinous terrorist acts as an attempt to take revenge on the Turkish people and punish them for their honorable support for the Syrian people," it said.

The frontier area has seen heavy fighting between rebels and the Syrian regime. In February, a car bomb exploded at a Syrian border crossing with Turkey, just a few kilometers from Reyhanli, killing 14. Turkey’s interior minister at the time blamed Syria’s intelligence agencies and its army for involvement.


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Four Syrians and a Turk are in custody in connection with the Feb. 11 attack at the Bab al-Hawa frontier post. No one has claimed responsibility, but a Syrian opposition faction accused the Syrian government of the bombing, saying it narrowly missed 13 leaders of the group.

In that bombing, most of the victims were Syrians who had been waiting in an area straddling the frontier for processing to enter Turkey.

Tensions also flared between the Syrian regime and Turkey after shells fired from Syria landed on the Turkish side, prompting Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S. to send two batteries of Patriot air defense missiles each to protect their NATO ally.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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