Dozens arrested in Turkey over attacks on Syrian refugees

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Police in Turkey have arrested dozens of people in connection with a series of attacks on homes and businesses owned by Syrian nationals.

Hundreds of people took to the streets of the capital Ankara on Wednesday night, chanting anti-Syrian slogans, amid intensifying discourse.

Stones were thrown at Syrian refugees’ homes in the Altındağ neighbourhood while some shops were also ransacked.

Ankara police said 76 suspects were taken into custody on Thursday, suspected of either being involved in the attacks or of sharing provocative social media postings that allegedly helped stoke the mob’s anger.

At least 38 of the suspects had prior criminal records for robbery, assault, or drug trafficking, the authorities added.

The violence came after an 18-year-old teenager Emirhan Yalcin was stabbed to death in a fight with a group of refugees earlier that day. Two foreign nationals accused of “intentional homicide” had been arrested, the state news agency Anadolu reported.

Ankara authorities said calm had been restored after several hours and urged citizens not to pay attention to “provocative statements and messages” online.

Turkish Red Crescent Chairman Kerem Kinik said on Twitter that a Syrian child had been hospitalised after being injured by a stone thrown at his family’s home.

“Since when is stoning a house at night part of our customs? Several refugees have contacted us. They are afraid for the safety of their children,” Kinik said.

Turkey, which is grappling with a battered economy and high unemployment, is home to around four million mostly-Syrian refugees.

But there is public concern that the country may be faced with a fresh refugee influx from Afghanistan, where the Taliban have been making gains as US and NATO troops withdraw.

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