Locals turn anger on officials at funerals
In the border town of Akçakale, locals gather at the funeral of Gülşen Özer, one of the five people killed in Syrian mortar shellings which hit her house. Akçakale residents expressed their fury at the authorities who came to the funerals. ‘You are protected by so many men, why are we unprotected?’ one mourner said. DHA photo
Residents of the southeastern Turkish border town of Akçakale attempted to pick up the pieces yesterday following shelling a day earlier from nearby Syria that killed five people, including three children.
Funerals were held yesterday for a mother and her three children, as well as another woman, a mother of three. Thirteen people, including three policemen, were also wounded.
The deaths marked the most serious incident between Turkey and Syria since June 22, when Syrian forces shot down a Turkish jet in the eastern Mediterranean, killing two pilots.
Akçakale residents expressed their fury at the authorities who came to funerals, including Şanlıurfa Gov. Celalettin Güvenç and 2nd Army Commander Gen. Galip Mendi. “You are protected by so many men, why are we unprotected?” one mourner said.
Some locals also voiced anger at Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who was visiting Akçakale. Residents accused the CHP figure of making provocations and of having ignored the safety of the town until the Oct. 3 incident.
“This is very close to the border, so it should be evacuated,” Tanrıkulu said.
“The state only granted about 300-400 Turkish Liras in financial aid for [the residents of the region] to move to safer places. These people must be protected and kept away from the conflict zone.” Three deputies from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were scheduled to visit Akçakale yesterday.
Labor Minister Faruk Çelik was also protested by the relatives of the victims. The border with Syria is less than 500 meters from the center of the town.
Strikes resume with dawn
Turkish Armed Forces resumed strikes against targets inside Syria yesterday morning in response to the deadly mortar strike, following on the heels of retaliatory attacks that began soon after the shells that fell on Akçakale. Activists in Syria said several Syrian soldiers were killed as a result of Turkey’s shelling but did not provide an exact figure. Akçakale and the surrounding border region have come under fire from Syria for several weeks, forcing the closure of around 100 schools and prompting the government to advise people to stay away from the region.
Also, around 30 houses close to the border crossing were evacuated last week after mortar shells hit an empty house. Many locals voluntarily evacuated their houses after the shelling, temporarily moving into relatives’ houses far from the border.
More policemen have also reportedly been dispatched to the town to prevent robberies that have increased since the evacuations.
Compiled from AA, DHA and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.