Turkey Gaziantep: Kurdish wedding massacre blamed on IS – BBC News

Women wait outside a morgue in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, 21 AugustImage copyright
Reuters

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Women could be seen mourning outside a morgue in Gaziantep on Sunday

So-called Islamic State is likely to have carried out a deadly bomb attack on a wedding in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

The death toll in the attack in the southern city of Gaziantep has now risen to 50, the local governor’s office said, with almost 100 wounded.

A suspected suicide bomber targeted guests at a Kurdish wedding as they danced in the street.

Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, is known to have several IS cells.

The BBC’s Seref Isler, who is from Gaziantep, says the city of 1.5 million was already on edge because of events in Syria, where IS has been battling Syrian Kurdish forces.

A suicide bomber believed to have links to IS killed two policemen in Gaziantep in May.


Was IS behind this? Analysis by Mark Lowen, BBC News, Istanbul

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Reuters

IS is known to have operatives in Gaziantep.

Turkey has been hit by a series of bombs both by IS and Kurdish militants in the past year. The last IS attack, on Istanbul airport in June, killed more than 40 people.

The jihadists have recently lost ground in northern Syria, including a former stronghold, Manbij. Syrian rebel soldiers are preparing to advance further into the IS-held province of Jarablus.

If this bomb was the work of IS, there will be speculation it was a revenge attack, intended as a show of strength by a group on the defensive.


In a written statement published by local media (in Turkish), Mr Erdogan argued there was “no difference” between IS, the Kurdish militants of the PKK, and followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blames for the coup attempt last month.

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

‘Blood everywhere’

The bomb went off in a part of town popular with students and which has a large Kurdish community.

Local MP Mahmut Togrul told the Reuters news agency it had been a Kurdish wedding.

Mr Togrul’s party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said the wedding had been for one of its members.

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Reuters

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EPA

According to a report (in Turkish) by Turkey’s Dogan news agency, the couple had moved to Gaziantep from the Kurdish town of Siirt further east to escape fighting between Kurdish rebels and security forces.

On Sunday morning, smashed garage doors and windows could be seen at the site of the blast, Reuters reports.

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STR

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The streets filled with people just after the blast on Saturday evening

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STR

“The celebrations were coming to an end and there was a big explosion among people dancing,” said Veli Can, 25.

“There was blood and body parts everywhere.”

On Saturday, Turkey’s government said the country would take a more active role in efforts to end the war in Syria.


Deadliest recent attacks in Turkey

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

President Erdogan (fifth from left) prays for airport employees killed at Ataturk airport in Istanbul

  • 20 August: Bomb attack on wedding party in Gaziantep kills at least 30 people, IS suspected
  • 30 July: 35 Kurdish fighters who try to storm a military base are killed by the Turkish army
  • 29 June: A gun and bomb attack on Ataturk airport in Istanbul kills 41 people, in an attack blamed on IS militants
  • 13 March: 37 people are killed by Kurdish militants in a suicide car bombing in Ankara
  • 17 February: 28 people are killed in an attack on a military convoy in Ankara
  • 12 January: 10 people, including at least eight German tourists, die in a suicide bombing in Istanbul, thought to have been carried out by IS
  • October 2015: More than 100 people die in a double suicide bombing at a Kurdish peace rally in Ankara – the deadliest attack of its kind on Turkish soil

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