Seven wounded by Syrian fire at Turkish border, say officials

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Five Turkish security officers and two civilians were wounded on Thursday after Syrians trying to cross over into Turkey randomly opened fired in a border buffer-zone, officials said.

“It started as a minor stone-and-stick clash when our security forces warned Syrians,” who were trying to cross the common border in large numbers, said Abdulhakim Ayhan, mayor of the border town of Akcakale.

“One police officer is severely injured and the other six were mildly hurt,” the mayor added.

The group believed to be smugglers clashed with the Turkish police at the buffer-zone, and the bullets fired by the Syrians ricocheted into the Turkish side, another Turkish official said on condition of anonymity.

Celalettin Guvenc, the governor of Sanliurfa province in the region, confirmed the injuries but said “we are still trying to identify the perpetrators,” in remarks carried by the state-run Anatolia news agency.

Turkey’s tense ties with former ally Syria hit their lowest on October 3 when Syrian shells landed in the same town of Akcakale, killing five people.

That incident had triggered weeks of artillery attacks from both sides of the border, prompting Turkey to request in December that NATO deploy Patriot missile batteries along the volatile border as a deterrent measure.

Turkey, now vehemently opposed to Bashar al-Assad's regime, has backed the two-year-old revolt in Syria, and hosts almost 400,000 refugees as well as the exiled Syrian opposition and military leadership.