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Turkey Fires On Syria Following Mortar Attack Across Border, Says Turkish Prime Minister's Office

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TURKEY SYRIA MORTAR ATTACK
This image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show smoke rising from buildings following a huge explosion in Saadallah al-Jabri Square in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video) | AP

Reuters reports that Turkey has retaliated for the the Syrian mortar bomb fired over the Turkish border, which killed five members of a Turkish family:


Reuters Top News
TURKEY SAYS HAS STRUCK TARGETS IN SYRIA IN RESPONSE TO MORTAR STRIKE ACROSS BORDER - STATEMENT FROM PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. READ THE ORIGINAL REUTERS STORY ABOUT THE ATTACK BELOW.


By Kadir Celikcan

AKCAKALE, Turkey, Oct 3 (Reuters) - A mortar bomb fired from Syria landed in a residential district of the southeastern Turkish town of Akcakale on Wednesday, killing a woman and four children from the same family and wounding at least eight other people.

A cloud of dust and smoke rose up over low-rise buildings as residents ran to help the wounded. Others, infuriated by the increasing spillover of violence from Syria's civil war, took to the streets shouting protests against the local authorities.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu phoned U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to brief him about the incident and also spoke with senior military officials and Syria crisis mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, his ministry said in a statement.

Davutoglu signalled over the weekend that Turkey would take action if there was a repeat of a mortar strike which damaged homes and workplaces in Akcakale last Friday.

"It (latest mortar round) hit right in the middle of the neighbourhood. The wife and four children from the same family died," Ahmet Emin Meshurgul, local head of the Turkish Red Crescent, told Reuters, adding he knew the victims personally.

"People here are anxious, because we got hit before. Security forces tried to convince people to empty the neighbourhood near the border, but now we've been hit right in the middle of the town," he said.

A Reuters witness saw three police officers among the wounded being taken to hospital.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan long cultivated good relations with Assad but became a harsh critic after Syria's popular revolt began last year, accusing him of creating a "terrorist state". Erdogan has allowed Syrian rebels to organise on Turkish soil and pushed for a foreign-protected safe zone inside Syria.


GUNFIRE STRAYING OVER BORDER

Syria's worsening bloodshed has increasingly affected border zones, with stray bullets flying into Turkish territory.

"Over the last 20 to 25 days there have been very heavy clashes on the Syrian side. We have felt the effects of these in Akcakale," Labour Minister Faruk Celik, an MP for the province where Akcakale is located, told parliament.

In April, Turkey reported an incident to the United Nations in which at least five people, including two Turkish officials, were wounded when cross-border gunfire struck a Syrian refugee camp in Kilis, further west along the frontier.

Turkey beefed up its troop presence and air defences along its 900-km (560-mile) border after Syria shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet in June. But residents in Akcakale said there was still not enough security.

"People here are rising up, there is no security. People were chanting for the local governors to resign," local resident Ibrahim Halil Arslan told CNN Turk television.

"Everybody here is so anxious. We keep our children locked at home, and we are trying to live under this psychological pressure," he said.

Washington sees Turkey as the pivotal player in backing Syria's opposition and planning for the post-Assad era. But Ankara has found itself increasingly isolated and frustrated by a lack of international consensus on how to end the conflict.

Turkey is also sheltering more than 90,000 refugees from Syria and fears a mass influx similar to the flight of half a million Iraqi Kurds into Turkey after the 1991 Gulf War.

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