Suruc blast: At least 31 killed in “terrorist attack,” explosion hits Kobane minutes later
A suicide bomber attacked a cultural centre hosting anti-Islamic State activists in a Turkish town near the border with Syria, killing at least 31 people and injuring more than 200. The attack was blamed on the IS.
The blast ripped through a cultural centre in Suruc, a town opposite the Syrian flashpoint of Kobane — which was hit shortly afterwards by a suicide car bombing.
The force of the explosion in Suruc smashed the windows of the buildings in the centre of the city and set off a fire, witnesses said.
Television footage showed several people lying on the ground covered in blood and ambulances rushing to the scene.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said initial investigations indicated Islamic State (IS) militants were responsible.
"Preliminary findings point to a suicide attack carried out by Daesh," Davutoglu told a news conference in Ankara, using an Arabic name for IS.
"But we are not at a point to make a final judgment."
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on a visit to northern Cyprus, con- demned the attack as an "act of terror".
"On behalf of my people, I curse and condemn the perpetrators of this brutality," he said.
"Terror must be condemned no matter where it comes from."
The interior ministry vowed to find the perpetrators as soon as possible and bring them to justice.
"We call on everyone to stand together and remain calm in the face of this terrorist attack which targets the unity of our country," the ministry said in a statement.
Kobane blast strengthens suspicions of IS link
An official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deadly attack in Kobane "strengthens our suspicions" that the IS group were responsible.
A suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at a checkpoint in Kobane's south, with two Kurdish forces killed in the explosion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Pervin Buldan, a senior lawmaker from the proKurdish HDP opposition party, said the Suruc blast happened as Turkish and Kurdish youths gathered at the cultural centre ahead of a planned trip to the town of Kobane, which was secured by Syrian Kurdish fighters last month after an assault by the IS militants.
The group, known as the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations, had been planning the trip to build a library, plant a forest and build a playground in the town, Fatma Edemen, a member of the group who was wounded in the blast, said.
A video posted on Facebook by one of the group of youth activists showed at least 20 people lying on the ground, some still alive.
Sources in Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's office said he had ordered deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, as well as the interior and labour ministers, to go to Suruc.
The explosion came weeks after Turkey deployed additional troops and equipment along parts of its border with Syria, concerned about the risk of spillover as fighting between Kurdish forces, rebel groups, Syrian government troops and the Islamic State militants intensified.