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Scores killed in Turkey wedding blast

August 21, 2016

At least 50 people were killed and dozens wounded in a suicide attack in the southeastern city of Gaziantep. Turkish President Erdogan said the bomber was a child aged between 12 and 14.

Türkei Explosion bei Hochzeit in Gaziantep
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/EPA/S. Suna

Dozens die in Turkey wedding blast

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that the deadly blast at a Kurdish wedding was the result of "a suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14 who either detonated (the bomb) or others detonated it."

He also repeated an earlier assertion that militant group "Islamic State" (IS) was behind the attack.

"Our country and our nation have again only one message to those who attack us - you will not succeed!" he said.

Dozens die in Turkey wedding blast

The bombing took place on Saturday in a mainly Kurdish neighborhood in Gaziantep, close to the border with Syria, where IS militants hold territory.

President Erdogan said the death toll had risen to 51 on Sunday. Several women and children were among the dead and 69 were wounded. The blast happened at a wedding attended by members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

The remains of a suicide vest were discovered at the scene, reported CNN Turk quoting a statement from the chief prosecutor's office.

Türkei Explosion bei Hochzeit in Gaziantep
The remains of a suicide vest were reportedly found at the sceneImage: Getty Images/AFP/I. Akengin

Suicide blast

A Turkish official said the explosive was detonated as a large group of people from a Kurdish wedding party took to the streets in celebration.

"The celebrations were coming to an end and there was a big explosion among people dancing," said 25-year-old witness Veli Can. "There was blood and body parts everywhere."

Ambulances were rushed to the scene and police cordoned off the area. Social media videos showed chaos as people used the light on their mobile phones to find victims, with many bloodied people on the ground.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, interviewed on NTV television, said: "This was a barbaric attack."

An MP from the ruling AK Party said that IS militants were believed to be behind the bombing. Other officials said it could have been carried out by Kurdish rebels.

A partial broadcast ban on reporting the attack was later imposed by the Turkish broadcasting authority.

Ambulances arrive at the site of an explosion in Gaziantep following a late night militant attack on a wedding party
A wedding party was targeted in the late-night attackImage: Getty Images/AFP

Terror in Turkey

Turkey has been rocked by a wave of attacks in the past year, either claimed by militants linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - or blamed on IS.

In June, suspected IS militants attacked Istanbul's main airport with guns and bombs, killing 44 people. The militant group has been losing ground to US-backed Kurdish-led forces, including the key Syrian city of Minbij near the border with Turkey.

Over the past week, several attacks left 12 people dead in the largely Kurdish southeast, mostly police and soldiers, in an escalation that officials blamed on PKK militants.

The collapse of a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire between the Turkish state and the PKK in July last year has seen a return to violence in the long-running conflict. The PKK has since carried out dozens of attacks on police and military posts.

Pope leads prayer for Turkey blast victims

rs, mm/se (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)