Turkey Official: Bus Bomb Blast Aimed at Thwarting Aid to Syria

Wednesday, 13 Feb 2013 04:26 AM

 

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REYHANLI, Turkey — A car-bomb explosion on the Turkish- Syrian border crossing was aimed at “sabotaging” Turkey’s supply of aid to its war-torn neighbor, Turkey’s Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazici said.

Authorities beefed up security at the Cilvegozu border crossing after the Feb. 11 car bomb, which killed 14 people and injured more than two dozen, Yazici said today in televised comments. The border may reopen for trade late today or early tomorrow, he said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters today that more than one suspect has been detained, though some were released.

Turkey has sided with the Syrian rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, who has accused Turkey of providing them with military support. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu denied Syrian accusations that Turkey was sending weapons to rebels. Turkey shelters at least 250,000 refugees and supplies aid for Syrians across the border.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and reiterated “his deep concern over the spillover of the Syrian crisis into neighboring countries,” his office said in a statement late yesterday.

The border crossing was shut down to international trade last summer following a series of attacks on trucks on the Syrian side. Shipment of aid supplies and local border trade were allowed.

Narrow Escape

Syrian National Council leader George Sabra, speaking in Istanbul yesterday, said his motorcade narrowly escaped the attack on its way to Syria, according to Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency.

Three suspects were seen leaving a car several minutes before the blast, according to security-camera footage broadcast by state-run TRT television today.

Erdogan said today an announcement would be made after the investigation is completed. He said yesterday that Turkey was “vigilantly protecting its border with Syria.”

NATO missile-defense batteries have been deployed at Turkey’s request as reinforcements against a possible attack from Syria. In October,

Turkish army units fired on targets in Syria after an errant Syrian shell killed five Turks close to the border. Several Turks, including children, have been wounded by stray bullets from Syria since then.

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