BEIRUT

Middle East

Syria shells kill five inside Turkey

Smoke rises over the streets after an mortar bomb landed from Syria in the border village of Akcakale, southeastern Sanliurfa province, October 3, 212. REUTERS/Rauf Maltas/Anadolu Agency

ANKARA: Syrian shells killed five people in a Turkish town near the border Wednesday, prompting Ankara to contact the UN over the incident, which it said went "too far."

"Five people, including a mother and her three children, were killed. We also have nine wounded," said Abdulhakim Ayhan, mayor of Akcakale, where the shells exploded after being fired from Tall al-Abyad just across the border in Syria.

The incident marked the second time that fire from Syria killed people inside Turkey since the uprising erupted against the regime in Damascus in March 2011.

Turkey quickly contacted the United Nations over what Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said was an incident that "is very serious and goes too far."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu contacted UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the UN's Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi over the incident, his office said.

The minister cleared his schedule and chaired an emergency meeting at the foreign ministry to deal with the incident, it said.

Although fire from Syria has hit territory inside Turkey on several occasions since the uprising began against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Wednesday's attack marked only the second time that people have died as a result.

In the previous attack, two Syrian nationals were killed on Turkish soil in April from stray bullets fired from the Syrian side.

The town of Akcakale, close to the border with war-torn Syria, has been fired on several times over the past few weeks.

Turkish officials have advised residents to stay away from the volatile border, and more than 100 schools have remained closed in the region over the past two weeks because of the violence.

On September 28, mortars smashed into buildings in Akcakale, wounding one person, with Turkey warning that it would respond if there was a repeat attack.

On Wednesday, the town mayor said that "there is anger in our community against Syria," adding that stray bullets and shells had panicked residents for the past 10 days.

A week ago, the Turkish army deployed artillery and anti-aircraft missiles along the border in the region.

Since late July, Syrian rebels have seized control of at least three key border crossings with Turkey and others on the eastern border with Iraq.

 

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