Three Killed in Border Clash
EDIRNE, Turkey (AP) _ Greek and Turkish soldiers clashed Friday along the border between their countries, and authorities said three were killed. Both sides claimed the other started the fight.
Top military and civilian authorities from both countries later met to discuss a border protocol aimed at preventing future confrontations, the Turkish news agency Anatolia reported. It said the outcome would be announced Saturday.
In Athens, the Defense Ministry said a three-man Greek patrol came under ″unprovoked″ fire from Turkish soldiers who crossed the Evros River- border near Ferrai at 11:15 a.m. It said one Greek soldier was killed and another seriously wounded.
In Ankara, the Turkish general staff said two Greek soldiers crossed into Turkish territory at 12:20 p.m. A Turkish border unit ordered the two to halt, and Greek soldiers began firing, it said without making clear which Greek soldiers fired.
The Turkish statement said the shooting was in Ipsala township in western Edirne province, about 135 miles west of Istanbul.
A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press the firing lasted for two hours.
The independent Hurriyet news agency identified the Turkish victims as Lt. Hakan Turkyilmaz and Pvt. Mehmet Kalyon.
It said both sides fired shots, and the fighting continued sporadically through the evening hours.
Turkish forces subsequently increased security along the border, Hurriyet said, and the Cabinet met in emergency session. The Foreign Ministry summoned Greek Ambassador Sotirios Konstantopoulos to protest the firing.
In Athens, the Defense Ministry said the dead Greek was Zissis Karagogos, 19, from Salonica, and the wounded soldier was Dimitris Karayannis, 20, from Arta. It did not give their ranks.
The ministry said in a statement the Greek and Turkish area commanders met informally and agreed to ″consider the incident as one of local nature.″
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannis Kapsis summoned Turkish Ambassador Nazmi Akiman and protested the firing, rejecting the claim that it occurred on Turkish territory, the statement said.
A military source said Greek forces in the area were put on alert and reinforcements sent to the border. The source, speaking anonymously, also said military posts along the frontier were moved forward.
In Washington, State Department press officer Sondra McCarty said the United States was seeking additional information on the fight and ″would deeply regret any injury or loss of life that may have taken place.″
Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, have long been at odds over Cyprus, mineral rights in the Aegean Sea and control of its airspace, and territorial boundaries.