Mortar strikes Turkish school near Syrian border

  • 19/01/2016

Several people have been wounded and at least one feared killed after a mortar shell that appeared to have been fired from Syria struck a school in Turkey's southeastern border province of Kilis.

Footage broadcast on the website of the Hurriyet newspaper showed what appeared to be a body lying by the door of the school in Kilis town, the provincial capital, as shocked women and children were escorted from the building.

Security sources said as many as two people may have been killed, while local media reports said four people including pupils were wounded, one of them seriously. A government official told Reuters the authorities were investigating the number of casualties and the cause of the blast.

Kilis is on the edge of a roughly 100km strip of Syrian border territory controlled by Islamic State. Turkish towns in the region have frequently seen artillery fire spill over during Syria's civil war, about to enter its sixth year. Turkey's armed forces have responded in kind.

But NATO member Turkey, part of the US-led coalition against the Sunni radicals, has also become a target for Islamic State. A suicide bombing last week in Istanbul, blamed on the group, killed 10 German tourists, while bombings in Ankara and the border town of Suruc last year killed more than 135 people.

Turkish tanks and artillery bombarded Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq in the days after last Tuesday's bombing (local time) in Istanbul, killing almost 200 of its fighters, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said.

Kilis Mayor Hasan Kara told Turkey's NTV that at least two mortar shells were thought to have been fired from Syria, one hitting the school and the other landing in an empty field.

Ankara has been accused by some Western allies of waking up too late to the threat from Islamic State and allowing foreign fighters to cross its territory and join the group's ranks in the early stages of the conflict – charges it denies.