A Turkish soldier was shot and killed in a firefight with ISIS on the Syrian border on Thursday. The military forces reportedly responded with heavy weapon fire, killing at least one terrorist.
In recent days, southern Turkey has been the site of increased violence stemming from ISIS extremists. Suruc, a town in the region, recently suffered a destructive suicide bombing, likely committed by terrorists affiliated with ISIS. Thirty-two young people were killed in the blast, and many more were injured. In the aftermath of that brutal terror attack, Turkey is beefing up its border security measures in an effort to keep ISIS contained.
Improvements include erecting a physical wall, reinforcing wire fencing, and digging extra ditches.
“Critical sections [of the border] have been identified. Priority will be given to these areas and measures will be taken with all technological capabilities,” Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said.
President Obama apparently called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and told him that the United States and NATO want to work with Turkey to “stem the flow of foreign fighters.”
Many fear that the Syrian civil war is spilling over into Turkey, and that the government will be unable to prevent it, even with the increased attention to border security.
Protests broke out throughout the country after the suicide bombing, and many of the protesters accused Erdogan and the ruling AKP Party of not doing enough to combat ISIS.
In the past, the AKP in general and Erdogan specifically have been closely linked to Islamism, albeit a less radical version than the ideology ISIS seeks to spread.
In response to the protests, the Turkish government went so far as to fire tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds, and they also blocked Twitter within the nation.
The Kurdish people, an ethnic minority who live primarily in the southern part of the country, are particularly worried about the rise in violence.
Some within the Kurdish community, such as the HDP Party, have responded to the violence with calls for unity and a desire to work with the government and international community.
Others, however, have lashed out with violence of their own.
Members of the outlawed PKK, a militant group dedicated to Kurdish separatism, killed two Turkish police officers in response to the Turkish government’s lack of preemptive action.
“A punitive action was carried out… in revenge for the massacre in Suruc,” the militants said on their website.