Policeman killed, six wounded in Turkey-Syria border clash

One police officer was killed and six other people wounded Thursday after Syrians trying to cross into Turkey randomly opened fire in a border buffer-zone, officials said.

It started as a "minor stone-and-stick clash" when Turkish authorities issued warnings to a large group of Syrians trying to cross the border without passport, said Abdulhakim Ayhan, mayor of the border town of Akcakale.

The police officer died in hospital while four more security officers and two civilians escaped with more minor injuries, according to hospital sources.

The group, believed to be smugglers, clashed with Turkish police at the buffer-zone, and bullets fired by the Syrians ricocheted into the Turkish side, another Turkish official said on condition of anonymity.

Celalettin Guvenc, the governor of Sanliurfa province in the region, confirmed the injuries but said "we are still trying to identify the perpetrators," in remarks carried by the state-run Anatolia news agency.

Turkey's tense ties with former ally Syria hit a new low on October 3 when Syrian shells landed in Akcakale, killing five people.

That incident triggered weeks of artillery attacks from both sides of the border, prompting Turkey to request NATO Patriot missile batteries to be deployed along the volatile frontier as a deterrent.

Turkey, vehemently opposed to Bashar al-Assad's regime, has backed the two-year-old revolt in Syria, and hosts almost 400,000 refugees as well as the exiled Syrian opposition and military leadership.