Middle East

Anger and grief in Turkish border town of Akcakale

Town of Akcakale, Turkey
Image caption The Timucin home in Akcakale is just one street away from the road that faces Syria

On the outskirts of town, visitors to the men's mourning tent are invited to sit on carpets and eat a lunch of beef stew with rice.

There are cushions for those who find it hard to sit on the ground. One man passes round a tray of cigarettes.

A teenager serves glasses of tea - and is reminded to pass the sugar to each guest in turn.

At the entrance of the tent, Omer Timucin sits on a white plastic chair. He holds his mobile phone and his wallet in his hands.

He's just taken a call from Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

'Same fate'

On Wednesday, Mr Timucin's wife Zeliha and three of their seven children - 14-year-old Fatma, 12-year-old Aysegul, and eight-year-old Zeynep - were killed when a shell fired from Syria landed in the small yard of their home in Akcakale.

Three of the couple's other children - 16-year-old Hatice, 10-year-old Maryam and four-year-old Aysel - were injured in the explosion.

Image caption Omer Timucin (L) has yet to tell his injured children their mother is dead

Each has been taken to a different hospital. Hatice is in intensive care, the younger ones are being treated in orthopaedics departments.

Their father has yet to tell them that their mother and siblings are dead.

Omer Timucin suggests that he wants Syria's leader, Bashar al-Assad, to experience the same pain that he's suffering.

"I hope that Assad has the same fate as Gaddafi," he says evenly.

Outside the tent, several men say that they're convinced the shellfire from Syria was deliberate.

"These days, shells are precise to the millimetre," one man insists.

The men all say that their town was under fire for at least a fortnight, and their own government did little to help them.

"Where was the state for the last two weeks when we were being hit?" one asks.

In the women's mourning tent, family members cry openly.

Image caption Many Syrians openly cross the border to buy goods in Akcakale

"They destroyed my house, killed the soul of my home. Why is this happening?" asks the grandmother of the three children killed in the explosion.

In the centre of Akcakale, a small crowd gathers outside the Timucin family home.

A line of yellow police tape stops anyone from peeking past the damaged blue gate.

Shrapnel from the shell's explosion has damaged an apartment across the street. Some onlookers take pictures of the damage.

The Timucin home is just one street away from the road that faces Syria.

Many families have left these homes. They believe it's too dangerous to live on the frontline.

About 100 metres of scrubland lead up to the border fence with Syria.

At the Syrian border post, the flag of the pre-Assad government flies from a staff - a suggestion that opposition rebels have occupied it.

The border position on the Turkish side is closed. But police officers stand outside the main gate.

They watch as people come and go between the two countries through a gap in the fence. Many Syrians cross the border to buy goods in Akcakale.

Early in the morning, Turkish police officers wave through one group of Syrians carrying shopping bags.

The Syrians stick together and walk slowly through the gap in the fence - back to the war in their own country.

Additional reporting by Zeynep Erdim.