LONDON (Reuters) - Nine Turkish activists killed in an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship were shot a total of 30 times and five died of gunshot wounds to the head, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.
Autopsy results showed the men were hit mostly with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range, the Guardian said, quoting Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine which carried out the autopsies on Friday.
Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla of aid ships planning to break the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza on Monday. The deaths, which all took place on one ship, the Mavi Marmara, drew widespread condemnation.
Israel said the marines who rappelled onto the Mavi Marmara fired in self-defense after activists attacked them with clubs and knives as well as two pistols snatched from the commandos.
The autopsy results showed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back, the Guardian said.
A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has U.S. citizenship, was shot five times from less than 45 cm (18 inches) away, in the face, the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back, it said.
Two other men were shot four times. Five of those killed were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, the Guardian quoted Buyuk as saying.
In addition to those killed, 48 others suffered gunshot wounds and six activists were still missing, he added.
Israel said the multiple gunshot wounds did not mean the shots were fired other than in self defense.
“The only situation when a soldier shot was when it was a clearly a life-threatening situation,” the Guardian quoted a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London as saying.
“Pulling the trigger quickly can result in a few bullets being in the same body, but does not change the fact they were in a life-threatening situation,” the spokesman said.
The newspaper quoted Haluk Ince, chairman of the council of forensic medicine in Istanbul, as saying that in only one case was there a single bullet wound, to the forehead from a distant shot, while every other body showed multiple wounds.
He said all but one of the bullets retrieved from the bodies came from 9mm rounds. Of the other round, Ince said: “It was the first time we have seen this kind of material used in firearms. It was just a container including many types of pellets usually used in shotguns. It penetrated the head region in the temple and we found it intact in the brain.”
No-one at Turkey’s forensic laboratory could immediately be reached for comment.
Turkey, Israel’s only Muslim ally, stepped up its rhetoric over the killings on Friday, accusing the Jewish state of betraying its own biblical law.
Reporting by Adrian Croft