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Turkey Detains Car-Bomb Suspects, Says They Have Syrian Ties

March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Turkish police detained at least five suspects over last month’s car-bomb attack on the Syrian border, including four Syrians with ties to the country’s security forces, Interior Minister Muammer Guler said.

The Feb. 11 attack at the Turkish border crossing of Cilvegozu killed 14 people, mostly Syrians, and injured more than two dozen, according to officials. Two of the detainees “had fled to Syria and were brought from there,” Guler said in televised comments today. It was not clear who captured them across the border, or when the arrests took place.

The suspects were taken to the southern city of Adana for questioning, the official Anatolia news agency said. Two of them were in the car that later exploded, Guler said. Anatolia earlier reported that at least eight people were detained.

The car bomb was the latest sign that violence from the civil war in Syria is spilling into its northern neighbour. Turkey has sided with the rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, who has accused Turkey of providing them with military support. Turkey denies it is doing so.

Shells fired from Syria have frequently landed in Turkish territory, and one of them killed five Turks in a border town in October, prompting Turkey’s army to fire back. NATO missile-defense batteries have been deployed at Turkey’s request as reinforcements against a possible attack from Syria.

Turkey has opened its borders to Syrian refugees. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said yesterday that as many as 400,000 Syrians have fled to Turkey, according to Anatolia. About 186,000 of them are being sheltered in 17 camps along the border. The rest live in cities across the country, officials say.

The number of Syrian refugees could double or triple by the end of the year if the conflict continues, Guterres said, according to Anatolia.

About 1,000 Syrians, fleeing clashes in the northeastern city of Raqqah, crossed into Turkey today, Anatolia said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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