Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused Israel of state terrorism following an attack in neutral waters on an international aid convoy to the Gaza Strip.
"No matter what Israel says its motives were, what they did was [an act of] state terrorism," he said in a national address on Turkish television.
Arab media said 16 people had been killed and more than 30 injured when the Israeli military stormed the six-ship Freedom Flotilla carrying some 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza and 600 human rights activists earlier on Monday. The Israeli army's press service confirmed the deaths of more than 10 people.
"A Turkish vessel was taken hostage, and we demand its immediate release," Erdogan said.
The Turkish premier cut his official visit to Latin America short and decided to return to Turkey, as did the Turkish defense minister who was on an official trip to Egypt.
"By its actions Israel clearly demonstrated that it does not want peace in the region," Erdogan said. "We can not remain silent in circumstances where state terrorism is committed against humanity," the Turkish government head said.
The Israeli military has admitted that it intercepted an international aid ship en route to the Gaza Strip in neutral waters in the Mediterranean Sea. Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish-flagged vessel with hundreds of human rights activists.
The international community, presidential administrations and other leaders also strongly condemned the attack calling for an end to the Gaza blockade.
Media said that Turkish, U.S., British, Australian, Greek, Canadian, Malaysian, Algerian, Serbian, Belgian, Irish, Norwegian, Swedish and German citizens were on board of the vessels.
Israel, which has enforced an almost constant blockade against Gaza since the radical Islamic group Hamas took control of the enclave in summer 2007, earlier called the mission a "provocation" and threatened to intercept the ships and deport those onboard.
ANKARA, May 31 (RIA Novosti)