50 killed at wed­ding at­tack

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Feature/worldwide -

AT least 50 peo­ple have been killed and 94 more wounded in an ex­plo­sion at a wed­ding cer­e­mony in Turkey’s south­east­ern prov­ince of Gaziantep, near the Syria bor­der.

The blast, which oc­curred at around 11PM lo­cal time on Satur­day in the Akdere neigh­bour­hood of Sahin Bey district, was a “ter­ror at­tack”, ac­cord­ing to Ali Yer­likaya, the gov­er­nor of Gaziantep.

He said am­bu­lances were dis­patched to the scene, and dead and wounded peo­ple were taken to hos­pi­tals.

Mehmet Sim­sek, Turkey’s deputy prime min­is­ter, told NTV that the ex­plo­sion ap­peared to have been caused by a sui­cide bomber.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said “Daesh is the likely per­pe­tra­tor of the at­tack”, us­ing the Ara­bic name for the Is­lamic State of Iraq and Le­vant (ISIL) group.

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

Sep­a­rately, Samil Tay­yar, a mem­ber of par­lia­ment from the gov­ern­ing Jus­tice and Devel­op­ment Party, pointed the fin­ger at ISIL, also known as ISIS, in re­marks on Twit­ter.

A ma­jor city ly­ing just 60km north of the Syr­ian bor­der, Gaziantep has be­come a hub for Syr­i­ans flee­ing the civil war in their coun­try.

But as well as refugees and op­po­si­tion ac­tivists, there have long been fears it is home to a sig­nif­i­cant pres­ence of ISIL sym­pa­this­ers.

Sahin Bey district is said to have a large num­ber of Kur­dish res­i­dents and re­ports in­di­cate the wed­ding too had a strong Kur­dish pres­ence, fu­elling spec­u­la­tion of ISIL in­volve­ment.

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.

South­east­ern Turkey has been hit by sev­eral deadly blasts over the past year, linked ei­ther to ISIL or the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK), an armed group out­lawed in Turkey. Three sus­pected ISIL sui­cide bombers killed 44 peo­ple at Is­tan­bul’s main air­port, Ataturk, in July, the dead­li­est in a string of at­tacks in Turkey this year.

Al­most 40 peo­ple were killed in a sui­cide bomb at­tack in Ankara in March that was claimed by a Kur­dish sep­a­ratist group.

Vi­o­lence flared up in the largely Kur­dish south­east in the past week, with bomb at­tacks leav­ing 10 peo­ple dead in sep­a­rate at­tacks, mostly po­lice and sol­diers, in an es­ca­la­tion that of­fi­cials blamed on the PKK.

Turkey’s south­east has been hit by a wave of vi­o­lence since the col­lapse of a cease­fire with the PKK in July last year. The PKK has since car­ried out dozens of at­tacks on po­lice and mil­i­tary posts in the south­east of the coun­try. — Al Jazeera

Rel­a­tives mourn the dead

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