Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Turkey vows to fight back

Published:Tuesday | August 23, 2016 | 8:00 AM
People mourn as they attend funeral services for dozens of people killed in Sunday night's bomb attack targeting an outdoor wedding party in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said the "barbaric" attack in Gaziantep, near the border with Syria, on Saturday appeared to be a suicide bombing.

ANKARA (AP):

Turkey is determined to fight Islamic State (IS) group extremists inside Turkey and in Syria, the Turkish foreign minister said yesterday, after a suicide bomber attacked a Kurdish wedding party, killing at least 54 people, many of them children.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey would provide every kind of support needed to "cleanse" Turkey's border with Syria of the extremists.

The death toll from Saturday's attack increased to 54 as three more victims died in hospitals, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Nearly 70 others were wounded.

On Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the suicide bomber was a child between 12 and 14 years old.

But Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said yesterday that authorities were still trying to identify the bomber and didn't know whether attacker was "a child or a grown-up".

"A clue has not yet been found concerning the perpetrator," Yildirim told reporters following a weekly Cabinet meeting, adding that the earlier assertion that the attacker was child was a "guess" based on witness accounts.

An official said at least 22 victims of the attack in the southeastern city of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, were children younger than 14. The official couldn't be named in line with Turkish government rules.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but officials have said it appeared to be the work of the Islamic State group, accusing it of trying to destabilise the country by exploiting ethnic and religious tensions. It was the deadliest attack in Turkey this year.

 

BORDER 'CLEANSED'

 

Responding to a question about reports that Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces may launch an operation to free an IS-held town from Turkish territory, Cavusoglu said: "Our border has to be completely cleansed of Daesh (an Arabic name for IS). It's natural for us to give whatever kind of support is necessary.

"(IS) martyred our ... citizens. It is natural for us to struggle against such an organisation both inside and outside of Turkey," he said.

Cavusoglu said Turkey had become a main target for IS because of the nation's efforts to stop recruits from crossing into Syria to join the fighting, as well as hundreds of arrests of IS suspects in Turkey. He said Turkey had also become a top target because of statements by Erdogan that the extremist group did "not represent Islam".

Ozcan said the group chose a wedding party and sent a child to carry out the attack to increase the "shock" effect. He said the attack was most likely carried out by a local IS cell, who would know that the wedding was a Kurdish gathering.