Saturday, May 11, 2013

Car Bombings Near Syrian Border Kill at Least Forty in Turkey

At the New York Times, "Car Bombings Kill Dozens in Center of Turkish Town Near the Syrian Border":

REYHANLI, Turkey — Two powerful car bombs killed at least 43 people in this town near Turkey’s border with Syria on Saturday, transforming downtown office blocks into smoldering husks in one of the deadliest attacks on Turkish soil in at least a decade.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks, which came 15 minutes and barely a mile apart. Hours later, officials with Turkey’s government, which has backed the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, said they had identified the suspects in the bombing. The attackers, officials said, belonged to an organization linked to Mr. Assad’s intelligence services, though they did not name the organization or the suspects, or provide a detailed explanation of how they reached that conclusion.

Turkey’s swift accusation raised the possibility of an escalating conflict with Syria and the broadening of the war. A senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official said the government had not reached the point where it was considering a military retaliation, but added, “No crime will be left without a response.”

In blaming Mr. Assad’s government, Turkish officials seemed anxious to stave off any possible backlash against thousands of Syrian refugees in Reyhanli or its allies in the Syrian opposition for the bombing. The town is in a region of southern Turkey where some Turks have bristled at their government’s willingness to make Turkey a party to the war, putting it at risk.

After the bombings on Saturday, angry residents smashed the windows of cars from Syria, and a Turkish newspaper reported that protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan later erupted in Reyhanli’s streets.

If connected to the Syrian war, the attack on Saturday would be the deadliest spillover since the beginning of the uprising against Mr. Assad in March 2011. In October, shells fired from Syria killed five people in Turkey, and the Turkish government blamed Mr. Assad’s forces. At least 14 people died in a separate episode when a car bomb exploded at a border crossing.
Continue reading.