Syrian refugees clash with police in Turkish camp

AKCAKALE, Turkey Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:35pm GMT

AKCAKALE, Turkey (Reuters) - Syrian refugees threw rocks at Turkish military police who fired teargas and water cannon on Wednesday, the latest unrest in camps struggling to cope with a flood of people fleeing a civil war.

Reuters TV filmed the scenes at the Suleiman Shah refugee camp, near the Turkish town of Akcakale on the Syrian border, as dozens of protesters threw stones and smashed the windows of a fire truck.

Camp residents said young men started the protest after faulty electrics set a tent on fire which injured three brothers aged seven, 18 and 19.

A Turkish official said a "commotion" had broken out after the fire, but that the situation was now under control and declined to give further details.

Another Turkish official said the fire was not the cause of the incident and that it had been started by residents outraged when guards turned away around 200 Syrians trying to get into the site which is already full, home to 35,000 people and one of the largest in Turkey.

Protesters said many people were wounded in the clash, something Turkish officials denied.

"Residents are angry," said Sahar, a refugee who spoke to Reuters by phone from Suleiman Shah. She declined to give her last name.

"The mother of four children living in that tent had been complaining for a long time about electrical problems and nothing was done, and then we had this horrible accident."

Sahar said conditions at Suleiman Shah were poor, with several families sometimes crowded into one tent, and that relations between Turkish workers and the refugees had become increasingly tense.

Camps in Turkey for the most part have facilities such as electric heaters to protect against freezing temperatures and refugees receive three hot meals a day, better conditions than in camps in some of Syria's other neighbours.

But overcrowding remains a concern, with ever more refugees arriving as fighting across the border drags on.

With Syria's bloody civil war now in its third year, more than 1 million Syrians have fled their country. At least 4 million more are believed to be displaced inside Syria, aid agencies say.

(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Beirut; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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