Death toll rises to 13 in car bombing near Turkish-Syrian border

ANKARA, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler said Monday that death toll rose to 13 in the car bombing near Turkey’s southern border gate Cilvegozu in Hatay province.

Guler told reporters that three of the victims were Turkish citizens and 10 were Syrians, adding that 28 others were wounded, and nine of them were Turks.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “this incident shows the accuracy of our approach and our commitment to both the issue of terrorism and the situation in Syria,” adding that “I want to make it clear that we will not make the slightest compromise in our determination in both cases.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said the explosion occurred in a car that came from Syria but had not yet entered Turkey, in the buffer zone where humanitarian aid for Syrians is processed.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazici and Guler have left for Hatay to survey the blast scene.

Levent Gumrukcu, spokesperson of Turkish Foreign Ministry, said “the explosion took place in a buffer zone,” adding that the powerful explosion did not seem like that of a mortar shell.

A total of 15 vehicles, which were waiting in the zone for admission, were damaged by the explosion, NTV reported, adding that dozens of ambulances had been dispatched to the scene.

The Cilvegozu border gate is on the opposite side of Syrian gate of Bab al-Hawa, which rebels fighting the Syrian government captured in July 2012.

Turkish trucks deliver aid to Syria through the gate, where Syrian dissents cross back and forth.

Reyhanli town, where the Cilvegozu gate is located, is 45 km from Syria’s Idlib and 60 km from Aleppo, two towns that have become the main battlefields between Syrian rebels and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

More than 170,000 Syrian refugees, including army defectors, are taking shelter in camps in Turkey.

Dozens of mortar shells from Syria landed on Turkish soil last year, with one of the stray shells killing five Turkish nationals in October in the southern town of Akcakale.