Refugees shot dead by Turkish guards

TURKISH border guards shot dead nearly a dozen Syrian refugees, including several children, yesterday (Sunday) as they tried to cross into the country.

Published: 20th June 2016 07:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th June 2016 08:11 PM   |  A+A-

TURKISH border guards shot dead nearly a dozen Syrian refugees, including several children, yesterday (Sunday) as they tried to cross into the country.

At least 11 people were killed after they were "fired on indiscriminately" at the unofficial Khirbet al-Jouz crossing, around 30 miles south of the Turkish city of Antakya.

Many of the victims were from the same family, who had recently fled the northern Syrian town of Jarabulus, which is held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Local activists gave their names as Obaid al-Abo, 50, and his children; Hassan, six, Waed, 15, Walaa, 17, Fatoum, 20 and Amani, 21. His wife and another son were injured, they told The Daily Telegraph. Footage purportedly taken after the incident showed a woman weeping as she cradled the body of a young girl of around two, who appeared to have been shot in the stomach. Another child is seen lying prone on the floor, covered by a blanket.

One activist said: "The guards opened fire on them indiscriminately."

A senior Turkish official said they were so far "unable to independently verify the claims" regarding the shooting, but authorities were investigating. The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said as many as 60 civilian refugees have been shot dead by guards since the start of the year.

Last year Turkey, which hosts some 2.7?million Syrian refugees, shut its border to all but critical medical cases.

A Human Rights Watch report last month accused Turkish border guards of regularly shooting and beating Syrian asylum seekers. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied the reports, and the army says it only fires at armed smugglers, not at civilians.

"While senior Turkish officials claim they are welcoming Syrian refugees with open borders and open arms, their border guards are killing and beating them," said Gerry Simpson, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

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