ANKARA: A Syrian refugee in Turkey was raped and bludgeoned to death by rock-wielding attackers just days before she was due to give birth, and her 10-month-old baby strangled, in a brutal double murder that has sparked outrage.
Turkish authorities have detained two men who reportedly confessed to what officials have branded a barbaric attack in a country that is home to nearly three million refugees from the Syrian conflict.
The suspects broke into the woman’s home and grabbed her and her baby boy, taking them to a forest in the western city of Sakarya where villagers found their bodies on Thursday, Dogan news agency reported.
The two men worked at a factory with the victim’s husband who they had argued with a few days earlier, Dogan reported.
The young woman was due to give birth on Friday.
Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya condemned the “barbarity” of the attack.
Women’s rights organisation We Will Stop Femicide Platform called on Twitter for “the heaviest punishment” for the killers.
The gruesome attack came after racist hashtags went viral on Twitter in Turkey including #SuriyelilerEvineDonsun (Syrians should go home) and #SuriyelilerSinirdisiEdilsin (Syrians should be deported).
Kaya hit back at the campaign: “Those who target our Syrian brothers and sisters with provocations and manipulations are no different to the cruel Syrian regime.”
Sakarya mayor Zeki Tocoglu vowed on Twitter that the perpetrators of the “brutal massacre” would be punished.
Earlier this week, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was forced to respond to media reports and postings blaming Syrians for an alleged escalation in crime in Turkey.
He dismissed the claims, saying the annual rate of Syrians involved in crimes between 2014 and 2017 was just over one percent.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said any Syrian refugees involved in crimes would be deported.
But he pointed to the “very valuable” and well-educated Syrians in Turkey, including many who had careers in neighbouring Syria before fleeing the six-year conflict.
The murders also come amid increasing levels of violence against women in Turkey.
Figures from We Will Stop Femicide showed that last year 328 women were killed compared with 121 in 2011 and 210 in 2012.
In its latest report, the group said 35 women were killed in June.