NICOSIA: An unidentified object that may have been a missile crashed north of the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, early on Monday, but no one was hurt on the ground, Turkish Cypriot officials said.
Mustafa Akinci, the Turkish Cypriot leader, linked the object to military operations in the Middle East.
Officials were studying debris at the crash site in the Tashkent area, said Kudret Ozersay, foreign minister of Northern Cyprus, a breakaway state recognised only by Turkey.
“According to information I received from our military sources, the cause of the accident that occurred tonight was not … a helicopter or one of our similar vehicles,” Ozersay wrote on Twitter. “Our soldiers, police and firefighters are carrying out inspections and responding at the site.”
He said it was not immediately clear what caused the crash.
Residents told Cypriot media they saw a light in the sky then three loud explosions were heard for miles around. Tashkent is on the foothills of a mountain range rimming northern Cyprus, lying some 20km northeast of Nicosia.
“Initial findings indicate the object that caused the explosion was either an aircraft carrying explosives or a direct explosive (missile). The writings and signs on the debris will allow us to understand exactly what happened soon,” Ozersay said.
Akinci said military authorities were trying to ascertain whether the object was a military vehicle or missile.
“It is evident it is not something stemming from our soil … It is one of the bad sides of the war in the region falling into our country,” he said.
Cyprus is close to Syria. Israeli warplanes fired missiles targeting Syrian military positions in Homs and the Damascus outskirts overnight in an attack that killed at least four civilians and wounded another 21.