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Published by The Washington Post 10 May 2016

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey came under scrutiny on Tuesday for alleged human rights violations committed by security forces against Kurds in the southeast and Syrian refugees trying to enter the country, with two organizations calling for investigations.

Human Rights Watch claimed that Turkish border guards have in the past two months killed five Syrians who were trying to cross into Turkey, and called on the country to investigate the reported use of excessive force by soldiers.

Separately, the U.N. human rights chief urged Turkey to allow investigators to probe allegations of violations committed by Turkish security forces in their campaign against Kurdish rebels.

New York-based Human Rights Watch accused border guards of shooting and beating asylum-seekers and at least one smuggler. It said that five refugees — including a child — were killed and 14 others were wounded in March and April.

A Turkish Interior Ministry official denied that the incidents cited by Human Rights Watch had occurred and insisted that the country, which is home to 2.7 million Syrian refugees, does not shoot at asylum-seekers. The official cannot be named because of regulations that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without authorization.

Human Rights Watch also urged Turkey to reopen its border to all Syrian asylum-seekers, claiming that Turkish border guards blocked thousands of fleeing displaced Syrians after their camps near the Turkish border had been attacked on April 13 and 15.

The report could not independently be verified by The Associated Press.

Turkey maintains that it has an open-door policy toward migrants, although new arrivals are rare.

“Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The U.N. human rights chief, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, said he has received reports of unarmed civilians, including women and children, being deliberately shot by snipers or from military vehicles in the course of security operations in southeastern Turkey. Those operations focused on mainly Kurdish towns where militants and youths linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party are active.

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