A 12-year-old suicide bomber attacked a crowded outdoor wedding in south-eastern Turkey’s largest city, killing at least 51 persons with over 90 injured, government officials said on Sunday.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that the Saturday night attack, had the hallmarks of Islamic State, which his nation has been battling as part of an international coalition.
Erdogan, speaking on national television in front of Istanbul’s city hall, said the suicide bomber was between 12 and 14 years old.
Erdogan, in his address, said it was clear the Islamic State had an organization in Gaziantep “or was attempting to make room for itself,” the AP reported.
“Many intensive operations were conducted, are being conducted. Of course our security forces will be conducting these operations with even greater intensity.”
“No one should doubt, the blood spilled by our martyred brothers will not be forgotten,” he said.
Also speaking, the governor of Gaziantep, Ali Yerlikaya, called the explosion a “terror attack,” while other officials said it could have been the work of either Islamic State or Kurdish militants.
The remains of a suicide vest were found at the scene, the chief prosecutor’s office said Sunday according to broadcaster CNN-Turk.
Gulser Ates, one of scores wounded in the attack, told Hurriyet the attack took place as the party was breaking up.
“We were sitting on chairs, having a chat with one of our neighbours. “During the explosion, the neighbour died on top of me. I remember being underneath. If my neighbour hadn’t fallen on top of me, I would have died,” she said.
“The bride and groom’s happiest day was poisoned.” Another resident in Gaziantep told Dogan news agency he saw many dead bodies and body parts including a “head, arm, hand scattered on the ground”.