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Five die as Syrian shells fall in Turkey

Ankara - Syrian shells killed five people and wounded nine others when they exploded Wednesday in a town inside southern Turkey, local authorities said.

“Five people, including a mother and her three children, were killed. We also have nine wounded,” said Abdulhakim Ayhan, mayor of Akcakale, where the shells landed from Tall al-Abyad just across the border in Syria.

Smoke rises over the streets after an mortar bomb landed from Syria in the border village of Akcakale, southeastern Sanliurfa province. Credit: REUTERS

It was the third time shells from Syria had hit Turkey but the first time they caused fatalities as fighting rages between troops loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the rebels for control of Tall al-Abyad.

“There is anger in our community against Syria,” the mayor said in remarks carried by the CNN Turk television channel, saying that stray bullets and shells had panicked residents for the past 10 days.

The latest incident prompted Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to contact the UN's Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on the developments, his office said.

His usual schedule has also been cancelled, it said.

Turkish officials have warned the residents of Akcakale to stay away from the volatile border line, and more than 100 schools have been kept closed for the last two weeks in the neighbourhood.

Officials had previously said that Akcakale was not a target but was being hit by stray shells and bullets fired from the Syrian side.

A week ago, the Turkish army deployed artillery and anti-aircraft missiles near Tall al-Abyad, separated from Turkey by a railway, as a precautionary measure.

Since late July, Syrian rebels have seized control of at least three key border crossings with Turkey and others on the eastern border with Iraq. - Sapa-AFP

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