Erdogan blames Turkey’s wedding massacre on Islamic State
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Islamic State for Saturday’s attack on a wedding party that killed no fewer than 50 people in the city of Gaziantep.
The wedding was attended by many Kurds in a Kurdish part of the city, near the Syrian border. Erdogan said the suicide bomber was between 12 and 14 years old.
In a written statement published in Turkish media, Erdogan said there was “no difference” between IS, the Kurdish militants of the PKK, and followers of United States-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blamed 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.
The White House condemned the attack in a statement saying the “perpetrators of this barbaric act cynically and cowardly targeted a wedding.” The statement yesterday added that “Vice President Biden will visit Ankara on Wednesday to reaffirm our commitment to work together with Turkey, our valued NATO Ally and partner, to confront the scourge of terrorism.”
All through Saturday night, ambulances rushed the wounded to hospitals across Gaziantep. Witnesses said a suicide bomber detonated explosives in a packed street of people dancing and celebrating a wedding.
Along with children, the bride and groom are reported to be among the dead in Turkey’s worst terror attack this year. Speaking the day after the attack while surveying the damage, local resident, Ibrahim Ozdemir, said people were in shock.
“Our friends and neighbours were there. We are so sad and in pain. The attack is an atrocity.” He said, “We want to end these massacres. We are in pain, especially the women and children.”
Shortly after the attack, Deputy Prime Minister, Mehmet Simsek, flew to Gaziantep; the city he represents. Simsek took a defiant stance.
“The aim of terror is to scare the people but we will not allow this,” he said, adding that a suicide bombing was the likely cause.
Syrian Kurdish forces have inflicted a number of recent defeats on the Jihadist group. IS was blamed for a series of suicide bombings of Kurdish targets, including the country’s worst terror attack in the capital, Ankara, in October in which nearly 100 people died while attending a pro Kurdish rally.
Gaziantep, where the latest attack occurred, is less than an hour’s drive to the Syrian border and has been a main hub for jihadists entering Syria and for logistical support.
In May, Islamic State was blamed for a suicide car bombing of the city’s security headquarters.
IS has not claimed responsibility for Saturday’s bombing, but analysts say the group has a record of not doing so for bombings in Turkey.