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Turkey demands release of bodies, Gaza activists

Turkey Materials 1 June 2010 04:42
The Turkish government late Monday demanded that Israel release the bodies of Gaza activists killed by the Israeli military Monday, in addition to six ships and hundreds of activists who have apparently been detained, dpa reported.
Turkey demands release of bodies, Gaza activists

The Turkish government late Monday demanded that Israel release the bodies of Gaza activists killed by the Israeli military Monday, in addition to six ships and hundreds of activists who have apparently been detained, dpa reported.

"This is a national situation. We will study what we can do," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said before breaking off his visit in Chile to rush home amid the crisis.

"The ships and all their activists must be released immediately. We want full information about the victims. We demand immediate transfer of the bodies and immediate help for the injured," Erdogan said.

Seeking to head off harassment of Turkey's Jewish community, Erdogan pledged the government's protection for Turkish Jews.

At least nine international activists were killed, and possibly up to 19, in the early morning raid by the Israeli military on a flotilla of six ships carrying humanitarian supplies that were trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. Most of the victims were reportedly from Turkey.

In addition, more than 30 people were seriously injured, and hundreds of activists were detained by Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Canada that five of the ships cooperated, while Israeli soldiers were attacked on the sixth ship, where fatal confrontation occurred.

"We cannot declare war against Israel for this - that would not be right," Bulent Arinc, a deputy prime minister, told Turkish television TRT.

On Tuesday, representatives of Turkey's Red Crescent are due to fly to Israel to seek transfer of the bodies and the wounded back to Turkey.

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