Four dead as rockets hit teachers’ dormitory in Turkish border town

Reuters, April 19, 2016

By Seyhmus Cakan and Orhan Coskun

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, April 18 (Reuters) – Four people were killed when rockets hit the southeastern Turkish town of Kilis near the Syrian border on Monday, crashing into an area near a hospital and hitting a teachers’ dormitory, sources said.

The rocket fire came from an area of Syria controlled by Islamic State, and the Turkish army retaliated with cross-border artillery fire against militant positions, Governor Suleyman Tapsiz told broadcaster TRT Haber.

“These are coming from the Daesh area in Syria. Our army officials are locating their coordinates and destroying them with artillery fire,” Tapsiz said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Kilis, just across the border from an area of Syria controlled by Islamic State has been frequently hit by rocket fire in recent weeks, prompting the Turkish military to return fire on militant positions.

Security sources said that five rockets landed in Kilis, including one in an area near the state hospital, and another striking the teachers’ dormitory near the town centre.

Hospital sources confirmed that four people had died and eight were wounded. Turkey’s Dogan news agency said a Syrian national was among the dead and a child among the injured.

No one was immediately able to confirm whether the rockets were fired from Syria.

Last week more than 20 people were wounded in three straight days of rocket salvoes towards the town, where an estimated 110,000 Syrian refugees are housed.

Separately, Dogan reported that the Turkish military fired artillery into Syria after a mortar round landed near an army outpost in the southern province of Hatay.

Following last week’s attacks Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the military was conducting a “decisive battle” to protect citizens from a “circle of fire”.

Turkey is facing several security threats. As part of a U.S.-led coalition, it is fighting Islamic State in neighbouring Syria and Iraq as well as Kurdish militants in its own southeast, where a 2-1/2-year ceasefire collapsed last July, triggering the worst violence since the 1990s. (Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Angus MacSwan)