Rock-wielding attackers have raped and bludgeoned to death a Syrian refugee in Turkey just days before she was due to give birth and strangled her 10-month-old baby.
The brutal double murder amid a groundswell of public hatred and racist attacks has raised new worries about the safety of refugees in Turkey which is one of the key players in the Syria crisis.
Turkish authorities have detained two men who reportedly confessed to the barbaric attack, Dogan news agency reported.
The attackers, it said, broke into the home where the young woman and her baby boy lived, taking them to a forest in the western city of Sakarya where villagers found their bodies Thursday.
The woman was reportedly due to give birth Friday. The victim’s husband reportedly worked at a factory with the two assailants and they had an argument a few days earlier.
The attack came in the wake of racist hashtags on Twitter including #SuriyelilerEvineDonsun (Syrians should go home) and #SuriyelilerSinirdisiEdilsin (Syrians should be deported) which went viral in Turkey.
Authorities denounced the campaign and pledged to punish the perpetrators of the “brutal massacre”.
Turkish media reports and postings have been blaming Syrians for an alleged escalation in crime in Turkey.
Earlier this week, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was forced to dismiss the claims, saying the annual rate of Syrians involved in crimes between 2014 and 2017 was just over 1 percent.
Turkey is reportedly home to nearly three million Syrian refugees who have fled a brutal war in their country. Many foreign militants fighting in Syria have mostly used Turkey to cross into the Arab country.
Ankara was one of the main supporters of a campaign to topple the Syrian government although it has moderated its stance recently after seeing the threat of a US-backed Kurdish insurgency on its borders.
Last year, Human Rights Watch said Turkish border guards were shooting at and beating Syrian refugees trying to cross into Turkey, calling on the country to investigate abuses.
According to the New York-based rights group, in one incident troops opened fire on a group of Syrians trying to enter Turkey, killing five people, including a child, and injuring 14 others.
Later that year, the guards killed nine members of a Syrian family as they were trying to cross the frontier.
In April, a mob of around 300 Turks, armed with knives and clubs, stormed into a makeshift camp accommodating Syrian refugees in the western province of Izmir and set fire to tents. Some 500 Syrian refugees were consequently forced to flee the camp.