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People gather after an explosion in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey. Eyyup Burun

'Barbaric' bomb attack on Turkish wedding kills at least 50 people

It’s believed the perpetrator mixed with wedding guests before the blast. 50 people have been killed and 94 wounded.

THE DEATH TOLL from the bomb attack on a wedding in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey has risen to 50, the regional governor’s office said today.

“The number of those killed in the terrorist bombings is, as of today, 50,” the office of governor Ali Yerlikaya said in a statement, raising a previous toll of 30.

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today the Islamic State (IS) group was the “likely perpetrator” of a bomb attack on a wedding in the city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border.

The explosion — which officials said could have been triggered by a suicide bomber — was the latest attack to have rocked the key NATO member in a horrific year that has seen strikes blamed on Kurdish and Islamist militants as well as a bloody 15 July botched coup.

Death toll 

Gaziantep governor Ali Yerlikaya said in a statement that around 94 have been left wounded in “an abhorrent terror bomb attack on a wedding” late on last night.

Turkey Explosion People react after an explosion in Gaziantep. AP AP

Erdogan said in a statement that there was “no difference” between the group of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen who he blames for the failed coup bid, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) “and Daesh (IS), the likely perpetrator of the attack in Gaziantep”.

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

 Kurds targeted 

Reports said the wedding had a strong Kurdish presence. The Dogan news agency said the bride and groom were from the mainly Kurdish region of Siirt further to the east and themselves been uprooted due to the flare-up in violence with Kurdish militants.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said its members had been present at the wedding which was also attended by many women and children.

Turkey Explosion People gather after an explosion in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey. Eyyup Burun Eyyup Burun

Erdogan said that the aim of attacks like Gaziantep was to sow division between different groups in Turkey such as Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen and “spread incitement along ethnic and religious lines.”

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said: ”Our grief is great but be sure our unity and togetherness will defeat all these diabolic attacks,” he said.

 ’Likely suicide attack’ 

Mehmet Erdogan, a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker for Gaziantep said there was a “high possibility” it was a suicide attack.

“The aim of terror is to scare the people but we will not allow this,” said Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, who also represents Gaziantep in the Turkish parliament, adding that a suicide bombing was the likely cause.

Dogan news agency said the perpetrator had mixed in with the guests before detonating the charge. Security forces are now searching for two individuals who entered the celebration with the suspected bomber and then fled, it added.

Images from the scene showed bodies covered in white sheets while distraught relatives of the victims were comforted in the street.

© AFP 2016.

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