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Ankara Blames Syria For Deadly Car Bombings

  • RFE/RL

A devastating double car bombing in the Turkish town of Reyhanli on May 11 left dozens of people dead.

A devastating double car bombing in the Turkish town of Reyhanli on May 11 left dozens of people dead.

Turkey’s government is blaming Syrian forces for two car bombs that killed 40 people and wounded more than 100 in a Turkish town near the border with Syria.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime were the “usual suspects” behind the attack in Reyhanli on May 11.

Arinc said Ankara would complete an investigation before deciding on any response.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters during a visit to Berlin on May 11 that Ankara would “take all necessary measures” to protect itself

Davutoglu also warned that "no one should attempt to test Turkey’s power."

Earlier on the same day, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Turkish television that the attack could be linked to Turkey’s own conflict with Kurdish militants.

He said Turkey is now "going through sensitive times" and has started a "new era, the Kurdish issue solution process." He said that "those who cannot digest this new era…could take such actions."

But Erdogan also indicated that Ankara suspects that the Syrian government could have had a hand in the double car bombing in Hatay Province.

"Another sensitive issue is that Hatay Province is on the border with Syria," he said. "These actions may have been taken to provoke those sensitivities."

Syria's government, however, has denied any responsibility for the bomb attacks.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said on May 12 that Damascus "did not commit and would never commit such an act."

Activists at the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say several Syrians were among the casualties when the car bombs exploded near Reyhanli’s municipal hall and post office.

ALSO READ: In Turkey, 40 Killed By Car Bombs Near Syrian Border

More than 300,000 Syria refugees have fled across the border to seek shelter at Reyhanli since the uprising against Assad began in Syria in March 2011.

Turkey’s long-strained relations with Assad’s regime have been burdened by additional pressure as a result of the uprising.

With a flood of refugees fleeing into Turkey and artillery barrages by Syrian government forces hitting Turkish towns near the border, diplomatic relations have been severed.

Damascus is unhappy about a wide range of contacts that Turkey maintains with Syrian opposition forces.

Meanwhile, the United Nations and the United States have been leading condemnations of the May 11 car bombings in Turkey.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon denounced the attack, saying no cause or grievance justifies targeting civilians.

Secretary of State John Kerry called the bombings "awful" and said the United States stands with its NATO ally Turkey.

Turkey's Interior Ministry has since announced that nine people have been detained in connection with the blasts and that "there are confessions."

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and NTV