ISTANBUL — Nine people have been arrested in Turkey in connection with twin car bombings that killed at least 46 people Saturday in a town close to the Syrian border. Syria is denying Turkish charges of involvement.
Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler said some of those detained took part in planning the attack - conducting a site survey and disguising cars. He also said the alleged mastermind of Saturday's attack was among the nine Turkish citizens detained, all of whom he linked to Syria.
He said the incident was carried out by an organization which is in close contact with pro-regime groups in Syria, and very clearly, with Syrian intelligence.
But Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi strongly denied any involvement. He told a news conference in Damascus that Syrian values would never allow it to do such a thing. He also said the responsibility for the bombing lay with the Turkish government.
Turkish authorities are working hard to collect evidence and say more arrests are expected.
As the funerals for some of those killed in Reyhanli begin, Ankara is accusing Damascus of trying to provoke tensions between Turks and the more than 300,000 Syrian refugees seeking sanctuary in Turkey.
The Turkish government is weighing its response. "We will do what ever is necessary," said one Cabinet minister.
But according to opinion polls, a large majority of Turks oppose any unilateral action against Syria. There is a prevailing fear Turkey risks being sucked into the conflict.
Political observers say Turkey's government will also be aware Saturday’s attack could add to growing public unease over its strong support for the Syrian opposition.