IS suspected for wedding bomb
Gaziantep has a large Kurdish population. Source: Wikimedia
A bomb at an outdoor wedding party in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep has killed at least 30 and injured 94 more, according to the authorities.
Ankara called it a “terror attack” and said it was believed to be carried out by a suicide bomber.
The area is said to have a large Kurdish community and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said some of its members had been guests at the wedding.
Kurds are playing a key role in fighting IS in Syria, causing speculation that Islamic State was responsible for the bomb.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the aim of the bombing aimed to divide Turkey’s different groups, such as Arabs, Kurds and Turks and “spread incitement along ethnic and religious lines”. He might have added that was his job.
“Our country and our nation have again only one message to those who attack us, you will not succeed,” Erdogan said.
Gaziantep is 64km from the Syrian border. The wedding party had spilled out on to the streets when the bomb exploded. Isis is known to have operatives in Gaziantep. An Islamic State attack on Istanbul airport in June killed more than 40 people. Isis recently lost ground in northern Syria, including a former bastion in Manbij, and anti-government forces are preparing for advances into the IS-occupied province of Jarablus.
The bomb might be seen as an “Isil” revenge attack, intended as a show of strength by a group on the defensive.
The BBC’s Seref Isler, who is from Gaziantep, said: “Weddings are in Turkey considered sacred and very happy occasions, so to intentionally turn it in to a bloodbath has received some very staunch criticism to say the least. Turkish society seems to have been horrified that this has targeted specifically a wedding, what should have been the happiest day of this couple’s lives.”
A suicide bomber with suspected links to IS killed two police officers in Gaziantep in May.
South of Gaziantep in Syria, there has been heavy fighting between IS and Syrian Kurdish YPG militias. Kurdish forces took the border town of Kobane from IS control by Kurdish-led forces in January last year, after months of bitter fighting.
At the weekend, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said a Syrian political settlement must not include the Assad regime, Kurdish groups or IS.
“In the six months ahead of us, we shall be playing a more active role,” Yildirim proclaimed. “It means not allowing Syria to be divided along ethnic lines.”