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Attack in Turkey

sp/md, AP/AFPMay 5, 2009

Turkish officials say some 44 people were killed after masked gunmen stormed a wedding party in a village in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast and fired indiscriminately. Eight people have been detained

A small village in Turkey with soldiers standing around
Turkish soldiers outside Bilge village where an attack on a party killed dozensImage: AP

The assailants are reported to have opened fire with automatic guns and hurled grenades on a wedding celebration in Turkey's southeast, killing 44 people, including six children.

Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay said security forces have detained eight people suspected of involvement in the attack. Masked assailants attacked the ceremony in Bilge village, near the city of Mardin in southeast Turkey, with automatic weapons.

Turkish official says terrorism ruled out

Atalay said authorities have ruled out a terrorist attack and that the assault was most probably the result of a blood feud between rival families. The comment suggested he was ruling out involvement of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Reuters cited an unidentified, 20-year-old female witness who said there were about 200 people at the party when the attack took place.

Village host to "blood feud"

"There were a few people, they broke into the house and started spraying the place with bullets, hitting both men and women, their faces were covered with masks," she said.

Turkish media outlets reported there had been a "blood feud" in the village in recent years. Such feuds between families, often resulting from squabbles over property and marriage, are not uncommon in the region.

Separatist Kurdish rebels are active in southeast Turkey, where they have waged a 24-year campaign for self-rule that has killed around 40,000 people.