Bomber attacks pre-wedding party
At least 51 people were killed when a suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14 attacked guests dancing on the street at a pre-wedding party in the Turkish city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border late on Saturday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said.
The attack was the deadliest in a series of bombings in Turkey this year, and Erdogan said yesterday Islamic State (IS) was likely behind it.
Turkey faces multiple security threats from militants at home and from Syria.
“Initial evidence suggests it was a Daesh attack,” Erdogan said, using an Arabic name for the hardline Sunni group, during a visit to Gaziantep after the attack.
He said 69 people were in hospital and 17 were “heavily injured”.
IS has been blamed for other attacks in Turkey, often targeting Kurdish gatherings in a bid to inflame ethnic tensions.
The deadliest one was last October, when suicide bombers killed more than 100 people at a rally of pro-Kurdish and labour activists in Ankara.
Saturday’s attack comes with Turkey still in shock just a month after Erdogan and the government survived an attempted coup by rogue military officers, which Ankara blames on US-based Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen. Gulen has denied the charge.
Saturday’s pre-wedding party was for a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, and the groom was among those injured. The bride was not hurt, one official said.
Celebrations were ending at the traditional henna night party, when guests have decorative paint applied to their hands and feet, when the bomb went off, and women and children were among the dead, witnesses said.
Blood and burns marked the walls of the narrow lane where the blast hit.
Women in scarves cried, sitting cross-legged outside the morgue waiting for word on missing relatives.
“The celebrations were coming to an end and there was a big explosion among people dancing,” Veli Can said.
“There was blood and body parts everywhere.”
Another witness, Ibrahim Ozdemir, said: “We want to end these massacres. We are in pain, especially the women and children.”
Turkey is a partner in the Western coalition against IS in Iraq and Syria, allowing US jets to fly attacks against the group from its air bases. It has also backed some rebels in Syria.