Erdogan: DAESH likely to have carried out Gaziantep attack

The death toll from Saturday night’s bomb attack at a wedding party in southeastern Turkey has risen to 51. Most of those killed were women and children.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Bride Besna Akdogan is discharged from hospital after being treated for injuries from a bomb attack which killed 50 people at her wedding in Gaziantep, Turkey, on August 20, 2016.

The death toll from Saturday night’s bomb attack at a wedding party in southeastern Turkey has climbed to 51, according to a statement from the regional governor’s office.

The attack was one of the deadliest in a series of bombings in Turkey this year, and President Tayyip Erdogan said that DAESH was likely behind it.

"Initial evidence suggests it was a DAESH attack," Erdogan said in Istanbul on Sunday, adding that 69 people were in hospital and 16 were "heavily injured."

The suicide bomber that carried out the attack is known to be between the ages of 12 and 14.

Most of those killed in the attack were women and children.

The attack that left 73 others injured took place in the Beybahce neighbourhood of Sahinbey District of Gaziantep Province near the Syrian border.

Remains of what appears to be a suicide vest have been found from the site of the attack, said the office of Gaziantep’s chief prosecutor.

Erdogan condemned the attack in a statement asserting that he draws no distinction between terrorist groups such as the PKK, FETO and DAESH.

He said, “Those who cannot overcome Turkey and try to provoke people by exploiting ethnic and sectarian sensitivities will not prevail.

"I want to underline one more time, for our country and nation, that there is no difference between FETO – the perpetrators of the July 15 armed coup attempt, the PKK – killers of 70 of our security forces, soldiers, police and village guards last month, and DAESH – the possible perpetrators of the Gaziantep attack."

Ambulances arrive at the site of an explosion on August 20, 2016 in Gaziantep following a late night militant attack on a wedding party in southeastern Turkey. (AFP)

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim denounced the bomb attack and vowed to combat terror, saying it had turned the wedding ceremony into an occasion for mourning.

"No matter what the name of this villainous terror that meant [the loss of] innocence and life, the state, government, and nation will continue our determined fight against it."

Speaking to reporters in Gaziantep, Health Minister Recep Akdag said there were 73 people undergoing treatment from the attack, including 16 in critical condition.  

Women mourn as they wait in front of a hospital morgue in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, after a suspected bomber targeted a wedding celebration in the city, Turkey, August 21, 2016. (Reuters)

According to hospital sources, the bride and groom – Besna and Nurettin Akdogan – were not critical and would be discharged soon.

Earlier ambulances raced to the scene in the Akdere neighborhood of Sahinbey District and video footage from a private broadcaster showed police and emergency service workers rushing through packed streets in the city.

Gulser Ates, who was wounded in the attack, said she was speaking with her neighbour when the blast took place.

A woman pauses as she sits near the scene of an explosion where a suspected suicide bomber targeted a wedding celebration in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, Turkey, August 21, 2016. (Reuters)

"I don't know what happened. The only thing I know is that my neighbour died on top of me.

"If she had not fallen on me, I would have died, too. Her body saved me. I condemn terror. There were innocent children there. No one had done anything wrong."

Sukru Akdogan, the groom’s brother, said, "We couldn’t see anything. Nothing but body parts."

The wedding took place on a street, a common practice in southern Turkey, especially during the summer.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

A police officer secures the scene of an explosion where a suspected suicide bomber targeted a wedding celebration in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, Turkey on August 21, 2016. (Reuters)

The blast in Gaziantep came on the day Yildirim vowed Ankara would play a "more active" role in the next six months in efforts to solve the five-year Syrian civil war.

Gaziantep is just north of the Syrian border and has become a major hub for Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country.


TRTWorld and agencies