Syria opposition group says it was target of Turkey bus blast

Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:45am EST
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By Sinan Abu Mazer

REYHANLI, Turkey (Reuters) - A deadly minibus blast on Turkey's border with Syria was meant to target a Syrian National Council opposition delegation, the group said on Tuesday, but the Turkish authorities said it was too early to apportion blame.

The minibus, bearing Syrian number plates, exploded at a crossing on the border near the Turkish town of Reyhanli on Monday, killing 14 people and wounding dozens more.

"This is a terrorist act. We are working on several alternatives. It was probably carried out by a Syrian," Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler told reporters in parliament.

A statement by the Syrian National Council (SNC), an exile opposition group, said the bombing occurred as a delegation comprising the SNC leadership was expected to pass through the crossing on its way back from the Syrian city of Aleppo.

It said "Syrian regime tools" carried out the bombing, describing it as the latest of the "regime crimes".

Turkish police investigations were focusing on three people seen leaving the minibus before the explosion.

The minibus was parked in a waiting area at the Cilvegozu border post, one of the main crossing points for humanitarian aid into Syria, before it exploded, according to Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay.

"Amid the bustle, a Syrian-plated vehicle arrives, waits for some time and three people slip away. Twenty minutes later the vehicle exploded," the minister said.   Continued...

People attend the funeral of Ahmet Tas, 35, one of the 13 victims who died during an explosion at a crossing on Turkey's border with Syria, in the town of Reyhanli on the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province February 12, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas