Gunfire from Syria wounds civilians in Turkey

ANKARA Thu Nov 8, 2012 6:43am EST

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ANKARA Nov 8 (Reuters) - Two civilians in Turkey's Hatay province were wounded by gunfire from Syria on Thursday, a Turkish official said.

The two Turkish citizens in the border town of Ceylanpinar were struck by stray bullets fired from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain just across the border where Syrian rebels are fighting government forces.

One woman and one young man were wounded, the official said.

Turkish state-run Anatolian news agency said both casualties had been taken to hospital and that Turkish security forces had increased their presence along that stretch of the border.

Turkey has been bolstering security along its 910-km (560-mile) border with Syria and has been responding in kind to gunfire and mortar shells hitting its territory.

On Wednesday, officials said they had asked NATO to deploy Patriot surface-to-air missiles along the border to guard against the possibility of a further spillover in the violence.

Five Turkish civilians were killed last month when a mortar fired from Syria struck their house in Akcakale, a border town in Sanliurfa province further east.

Tension between the two neighbours, once close allies, is at its highest since Ankara turned against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last year over his violent crackdown on anti-government protests.

Turkey's chief-of-staff has said his troops will respond "with greater force" if shells continue to land on Turkish soil, and parliament has authorised the deployment of troops beyond Turkey, heightening fears that Syria's civil war could drag in regional powers.

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