43 Killed in Car Bomb Blasts near the Turkey's Border with Syria
Two car bombs have exploded in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, killing 43 people and injuring more than 100. Officials expect the death toll to rise. The blasts, which occurred within 15 minutes of each other, ripped through crowded streets near Reyhanli's shopping district in the early afternoon. According to Reuters, "restaurants and cafes were destroyed and body parts were strewn across the streets. The damage went at least three blocks deep from the site of the blasts."
Reyhanli, near the Syrian border, has become home to large numbers of refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria, including those living in camps and also Syrians who are renting homes in in the town. The town is also a centre for Syrian rebel activity. Turkish officials have said that location of the attack is no coincidence and they suspect the Syrian government is involved in the blasts. "Reyhanli was not chosen by coincidence. Our thoughts are that their intelligence agency and armed organisations are the usual suspects in planning and carrying out of such devilish plans," said deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc. He also added that if is proven that the Syrian government is behind the bombings, Turkey would do "do whatever is necessary."
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The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also claimed that the attacks may be related to Turkey's ongoing peace talks with Kurdish rebels, which began in October last year. Just last month a ceasefire between the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) and Turkey's security forces was declared.
Reuters reports that "protests erupted in Reyhanli after the blasts, with some locals blaming Syrians there for bringing violence over the frontier and smashing their car windows, while others railed against Turkey's foreign policy, chanting for Erdogan to resign."
The main Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, has condemned the attacks, calling them a failed attempt to "destroy the brotherhood" between Syrians and Turks.
As yet there has been no comment from Damascus.