Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler blamed groups supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be behind the twin car bombings in Turkey on Saturday, which killed at least 43 people and left 140 wounded.
“The people and the organization who carried out this attack have been identified. We have established that they are linked to groups supporting the Syrian regime and its intelligence services,” Guler told national TRT television, as quoted by Reuters.
Earlier on the day, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that the Syrian regime is considered the “usual suspect” behind Saturday’s car bombs in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli, Reuters said.
In the same vain, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the blasts might be related to the conflict in Syria or to Turkey's own peace process with Kurdish militants.
“We are going through sensitive times; we started a new era, the Kurdish issue solution process. Those who cannot digest this new era ... could take such actions,” Erdogan said in comments broadcast on Turkish television.
“Another sensitive issue is that Hatay province [where the explosions occurred] is on the border with Syria, these actions may have been taken to provoke those sensitivities,” he said, reported Reuters.
Meanwhile, a third explosion has been reported by AFP in the same area. Details on the incident have yet to be released.
Events earlier on the day
Several ambulances rushed to the site of the explosion to tend to the victims, CNN-Turk television said cited by AFP, adding that the town hall had suffered major damage.
“Two cars exploded in front of the municipality building and the post office in Reyhanli,” Guler told reporters in comments broadcast on Turkish television, according to Reuters.
Reyhanli, a town of about 60,000 people, lies near the Cilvegozu crossing opposite Syria’s Bab al-Hawa border post.
The border area has witnessed a number of attacks as the conflict in Syria spills over into Turkey, a one-time ally of President Assad and now one of its harshest critics.
U.S. condemns blasts
The United States strongly condemned the twin car bombings in the Turkish town near the Syrian border and vowed solidarity with Turkey in identifying those responsible.
“The United States strongly condemns today’s vicious attack, and stands with the people and government of Turkey to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone said in a statement.
The U.N. also reacted to the bombing, leader Ban Ki-moon denounced the attack in Turkey and said perpetrators must be “brought to justice.”
“The secretary-general condemns, in the strongest terms, the deadly attack that took place today in the town of Reyhanli,” said U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky.
Ban “condemns all acts of terrorism and reiterates that no cause or grievance ever justifies the targeting of civilians,” the spokesman added.