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Gunfire across Syrian border kills two in Turkish refugee camp

April 9, 2012 |  8:59 am

This story has been updated. See the note below.

REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Gunmen fired across the Syrian border into a refugee camp in Turkey on Monday, killing two camp residents and wounding at least four others, while gunfire along the Syrian border with Lebanon killed a television cameraman.

Syrian activists blamed the gunfire into the Kilis camp in Turkey on Syrian forces.

At least 15 other people were wounded outside the facility as they were fleeing Syria into Turkey, the activists said.

Clashes between Syrian forces and Free Syrian Army rebels are taking place regularly during the night along the Turkish-Syrian border, activists told The Times. However, this reportedly was the first known incident of direct fire at a refugee camp.

"There were clashes in the border area between FSA and the regular army," said an activist at the camp who requested to be identified only as Tariq. "It started around 3 a.m. We hear gunfire every night. But it is the first time they directly fire at the camp.”

The camp is 400 to 500 yards from the border and hosts about 8,000 refugees, though it has a capacity of 12,000, he said.

"The regular army fired at the camp around noon," he said. "There are four wounded, including a Turkish nurse, and two Syrian refugees who were killed. They were both standing next to me on a higher ground, watching the clashes; I was filming when they were killed."

In Lebanon, gunfire from the Syrian village of Armouta killed Al Jadeed television cameraman Ali Shaaban, the Associated Press reported.

His colleague, reporter Hussein Khreis, said the team heard heavy gunfire around them from all sides, “falling like rain,” AP reported. Shaaban was inside a car when he was struck, Khreis said.

“If you see the car you would think it was in a war zone,” Khreis said on Al Jadeed TV. “It is completely destroyed from the bullets.”

The shooting at the Kilis camp led Turkish authorities to summon the Syrian ambassador in Ankara, the capital, to demand an end to clashes at the border area.

[Updated April 9, 11:49 a.m.: "Syrian citizens who took refuge in our country from the brutality of the current regime in Syria are under Turkey’s full protection," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a later statement. "We will certainly take necessary measures if such incidents reoccur."]

A Foreign Ministry official speaking on the condition of anonymity denied that Turkey has sent reinforcement to the area. However, he said “everything is on the table” when asked if the shooting will affect Turkey's involvement in the conflict, including steps to create a buffer zone along the border or to allow weapons to go to the rebels.

“No Turkish reinforcements were sent so far," the activist in Kilis said. "People in the camp are anxious; they organized a sit-in demanding better protection. We are on Turkish land and this has happened, what if we were in Syria? Not even an ambulance was sent."

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-- Rima Marrouch

Video: This footage, uploaded to YouTube on Monday by opposition activists, purports to show traces of gunfire on housing units in the Kilis refugee camp in Turkey.

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