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Death toll in car-bomb blasts near Turkey's border with Syria rises to 40


Ankara, May 11 (EFE).- At least 40 people were killed and 100 others were wounded in a pair of car-bomb blasts Saturday in a town near Turkey's border with Syria, Turkish authorities said.

Interior Minister Muammer Guler provided the new death toll, which had risen sharply from an initial report of four dead, and noted that 29 of those listed as wounded in the explosions were in serious condition.

The car bombs exploded around 1:45 p.m. near the town hall and post office in Reyhanli, a town of 60,000 inhabitants in the southern Turkish province of Hatay.

The devastating blasts caused a nearby building to collapse, as well as major damage to the municipal government offices.

Authorities have not yet indicated who they suspect may be behind the explosions and said they were considering all possibilities.

Turkey, the only Muslim country that is a member of NATO, has been one of the staunchest critics of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and has allowed civilian refugees fleeing that Arab nation's civil war and Syrian army defectors across the border.

In the wake of the blast, dozens of Turks gathered in Reyhanli to attack Syrians, whom they blamed for the explosion, the Hurriyet daily reported.

Police had difficulty controlling the demonstrators, who threw rocks at several vehicles with Syrian license plates as motorists left the town amid the rising tension.

Turkey has taken in more than 300,000 Syrian refugees, most in camps along its 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with its neighbor to the southeast.

Reyhanli is located near the busy Cilvegozu border crossing, where a car bomb in February killed 14 people.

Turkish authorities have jailed four Syrians and a Turk in connection with that attack, accusing those suspects of links with Syria's secret service and army.