An explosion on a minibus with a Syrian license plate killed 12 people and injured 28 others at a Turkish border crossing with Syria, according to Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc.
The blast occurred in an area where humanitarian aid supplies were distributed at the Cilvegozu border point, Arinc said. The explosion was on the Turkish side of the border, customs officials said.
“Nine Syrian citizens and three Turks lost their lives,” Arinc said. “Thirteen of the injured are in serious condition.” Earlier television reports said nine people died.
Turkey has supported Syrian rebels in their fight to topple President Bashar al-Assad. In October, Turkish army units fired on targets in Syria after an errant Syrian shell killed five Turks close to the border.
Arinc would not comment on whether the attack might have been carried by a suicide bomber, saying an investigation was underway and that three Cabinet ministers will travel to the scene tonight. He said the exact cause of the explosion had not yet been determined.
“All possibilities are being considered, whether it is politically motivated or an individual act,” Arinc said.
Mayor Huseyin Sanverdi of the town of Reyhanli near the border crossing told TV 24 television earlier today that “it might be an attack aimed at stopping aid supplies,” Sanverdi said. The blast damaged more than a dozen vehicles and left chunks of twisted metal at the scene, CNN-Turk said.
“It is an attack which we did not anticipate,” Haci Bayram Turkoglu, a government lawmaker, told state-run TRT television. “Turkey is only helping those who come to our door to seek help and refuge. Our doors will remain open for needy people.”
Turkey is sheltering about 180,000 Syrian refugees in several camps along the 900-kilometer (560-mile) frontier while at least 70,000 others live in cities, according to officials.
Turkish equities and the lira declined after the blast, which shut down the border crossing and interrupted a Cabinet meeting.
The U.S., Germany and the Netherlands have each deployed two Patriot missile defense batteries near the Syrian border to defend North Atlantic Treaty Organization member Turkey against a possible missile attack from Syria.
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