Attack on Turkey Wedding Kills 50

Turkey has been rocked by a wave of attacks in the past year that have either been claimed by Kurdish militants linked to the PKK or were blamed on IS
Ambulances arrive after an explosion in Gaziantep on Aug. 20.Ambulances arrive after an explosion in Gaziantep on Aug. 20.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday blamed the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group for the bombing of an outdoor wedding party in the southeast that killed 50 people and wounded dozens of others.

Officials say Saturday’s attack in Gaziantep, near Syria’s border, appeared to be a suicide bombing.

Erdogan issued a statement early Sunday saying that IS was “the most likely perpetrator of the Gaziantep attack.”

The initial death toll was 30 killed and 94 wounded. Later, the Gaziantep governor’s office raised the toll to 50, without giving a number of wounded, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency, AP reported.

Turkey has been rocked by a wave of attacks in the past year that have either been claimed by Kurdish militants linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party—known by its acronym PKK—or were blamed on IS. In June, suspected IS militants attacked Istanbul’s main airport with guns and bombs, killing 44 people.

The attack comes as the country is still reeling from last month’s failed coup attempt, which the government has blamed on US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers.

Erdogan said there was “absolutely no difference” among IS, Kurdish rebels and Gulen’s movement, calling them terrorist groups.

Earlier this week, a string of bombings blamed on the PKK that targeted police and soldiers killed at least a dozen people. A fragile, 2½-year-long peace process between the PKK and the government collapsed last year, leading to a resumption of the three-decade-long conflict.

Simsek, interviewed on NTV television, said, “This was a barbaric attack. It appears to be a suicide attack. All terror groups, the PKK, Daesh, the (Gulen movement) are targeting Turkey. But God willing, we will overcome.”

Daesh is an Arabic name for the IS group.

Simsek later traveled to Gaziantep, along with the country’s health minister, to visit the wounded and inspect the site of the attack.

“This is a massacre of unprecedented cruelty and barbarism,” he told reporters in Gaziantep. “We ... are united against all terror organizations. They will not yield.”

He told reporters it was too soon to say which organization was behind the attack.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim condemned the bombing that turned “a wedding party into a place of mourning” and vowed to prevail over the “devilish” attacks.

“No matter what this treacherous terror organization is called, we as the people, the state and the government will pursue our determined struggle against it,” he said.

A brief statement from the Gaziantep governor’s office said the bomb attack on the wedding in the Sahinbey district occurred at 10:50 p.m.

Mehmet Tascioglu, a local journalist, told NTV television that the huge explosion could be heard in many parts of the city.

Police sealed off the site of the explosion and forensic teams moved in. Hundreds of residents gathered near the site chanting “Allah is great” as well as slogans denouncing attacks.