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Turkish Border Town Endures Barrage of IS Rocket Attacks


FILE - A man carries an injured child after four rockets fired from Syria slammed into the southern Turkish town of Kilis, killing four Syrians — including three children — in the latest deadly cross-border strike to panic residents, April 18, 2016.

FILE - A man carries an injured child after four rockets fired from Syria slammed into the southern Turkish town of Kilis, killing four Syrians — including three children — in the latest deadly cross-border strike to panic residents, April 18, 2016.

Nerves are frayed in the Turkish border town of Kilis, where the spillover from Syria's civil war is a bitter reality.

Not only has the region taken in 130,000 Syrian refugees — more than doubling the local population of some 93,000 Turks — but rockets fired by Islamic State militants in Syria land almost daily, killing at least 14 residents so far this year, Turkish authorities say.

The latest attack occurred Friday, when a rocket killed two people, including a child, and wounded four others. Five residents died in one attack earlier this month, including four children, Turkish media reported.

"We are all scared," said Hasan Yadigar, a laborer in Kilis. "We don't have safety."

At least 40 rockets have hit the Kilis region so far this year, Turkish officials say.

FILE - Residents flee as rockets fired from Syria land in the Turkish town of Kilis, April 19, 2016.

FILE - Residents flee as rockets fired from Syria land in the Turkish town of Kilis, April 19, 2016.

"You don't know when and where the rockets will hit," said Ahmet Bal, a Kilis resident.

Town paralyzed

Many of the rockets are fired from the IS-controlled Syrian town of al-Rai, said Sertac Es, a defense reporter in the region.

Al-Rai is close to the border with Turkey and is on a key supply route into IS-held territory in Aleppo, Syria. The town was taken over by IS after a fierce fight with Syrian rebels April 11, according to media reports.

IS, which has claimed responsibility for several recent bombings inside Turkey, is now using its proximity to the border to terrorize residents in Kilis.

"Not a day goes by without rockets being thrown at Kilis," Es said. "The rockets are so constant that sometimes only the emergency service of the state hospital is open. Other services and clinics are kept closed."

WATCH: Rockets Target Turkish Border Town

Resident Bal said people in Kilis are keeping their movements to a minimum.

"Our children are not going to school because of this fear," he said. "They don't go to schools because of the rockets. We just wait — there is nothing we can do. We are worried. We don't know if the rockets are going to fall to my neighborhood or the other ones."

The Turkish army is sending in reinforcements and firing back with intense artillery barrages, according to Turkish sources.

But Kilis residents are angry, saying the government has not done enough to protect them.

"We don't know where the rockets will hit the next day," said resident Fatih Tutulmaz. "It can even hit right here. In fact, it hit 100 meters from here the other day. We expect something to be done about it, but nothing has been done."

VOA's Uzay Bulut contributed to this report from Washington.

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