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Turkey arrests 72 more people after attacks on Syrian shops in Ankara

Published: Updated:

Turkey's chief prosecutor on Friday announced the arrest of 72 more people implicated in attacks on the shops of Syrian migrants in the capital Ankara.

The new detentions bring the total number of people detained since Wednesday night’s violence to 148.

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The unrest broke out in response to a fight between locals and migrants in which a Turkish national was stabbed to death.

The Anadolu state news agency said two “foreign nationals” have been arrested and charged with homicide.

Images on social media showed dozens of shouting men breaking through police cordons and then attacking cars and shops believed to be owned by Syrian families.

A youth breaks a window as men smash up shops and homes believed to be owned by Syrian families during an unrest, in Ankara, on August 12, 2021, overnight. (AFP)
A youth breaks a window as men smash up shops and homes believed to be owned by Syrian families during an unrest, in Ankara, on August 12, 2021, overnight. (AFP)

They smashed windows with stones and crowbars and tore down the metal grill of one store before breaking in and ransacking its shelves.

Images obtained by AFP showed police firing tear gas to disperse the crowds as the violence raged late into the night.

The chief prosecutor’s office in Ankara has been detaining people who were either suspected of being involved in the violence or of disseminating incendiary social media posts before and during the attacks.

A damaged vehicle lies on a street after a Turkish mob attacked shops and homes said to belong to Syrian migrants in Ankara early August 12, 2021, in the wake of a street fight that led to a Turkish youth being fatally stabbed. (AFP)
A damaged vehicle lies on a street after a Turkish mob attacked shops and homes said to belong to Syrian migrants in Ankara early August 12, 2021, in the wake of a street fight that led to a Turkish youth being fatally stabbed. (AFP)

The unrest in Ankara comes with polls showing anti-migrant sentiment on the increase in Turkey.

Turkey has become home to 3.6 million Syrians under a deal struck with the European Union in 2016 to help avert the continent’s migrant crisis.

The sides are currently working on updating the terms.

Turkey’s main opposition party last month vowed to send Syrians “back home” if it comes to power in a general election scheduled for 2023.

Analysts link some of the resentment to economic instability that accelerated in Turkey with the coronavirus pandemic.

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