At least 40 people were been killed and another 100 wounded yesterday in explosions in a Turkish town close to the Syrian border.

The blasts were reported in Reyhanli in Hatay province. The interior minister, Muammer Guler, told Turkish media they were caused by car bombs.

Reyhanli lies just across the border from Syria's Idlib province.

One of the car bombs exploded outside the town hall, while the other went off outside the post office, Guler said.

Health minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said at least 15 ambulances were helping the injured.

Suspicion immediately fell on Syria, but there was no immediate confirmation of its involvement.

Turkey, which shares a border more than 500 miles long with Syria, has been a crucial supporter of the Syrian rebel cause. Ankara has allowed its territory to be used as a logistics base and staging centre for Syrian insurgents.

Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said the country would protect itself. "No-one should attempt to test Turkey's power. Our security forces will take all necessary measures," he was quoted as saying during a visit to Berlin.

There were reports that, following yesterday's blasts, local people attacked cars with Syrian number plates, and Syrian refugees.

It has been reported that tensions in the Reyhanli area have been high for several weeks, with clashes between Turkish and Syrian youths.

The frontier area has seen heavy fighting. In February, a car bomb exploded at a border crossing with Turkey in Idlib, killing 14 people. Turkey's interior minister has blamed Syria's intelligence agencies and its army for involvement.

Four Syrians and a Turk are in custody in connection with the February 11 attack at the Bab al-Hawa frontier post. No-one has claimed responsibility, but a Syrian opposition faction accused the Syrian government of the bombing, saying it narrowly missed 13 leaders of the opposition group.

In that attack, most of the victims were Syrians who had been waiting in an area straddling the frontier for processing to enter Turkey.

Tensions flared last autumn between the Syrian regime and Turkey after shells fired from Syria landed on the Turkish side, prompting Germany, the Netherlands and the United States to send batteries of Patriot air defence missiles to protect their Nato ally.