A teenage suicide bomber killed 51 people and wounded 69, 17 of whom seriously, at a Kurdish wedding on August 20 in Turkey’s southeastern city of Gaziantep, close to Syrian border.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Islamic State (IS) for the attack, the deadliest so far this year and the group's first since the attempted coup on July 15. Islamic State suicide bombers have often targeted Kurdish gatherings – killing more than 100 people at a pro-Kurdish rally in Ankara last October – as a way of inflaming tensions inside Turkey and of retaliating against Iraqi Kurdish forces fighting them in Syria.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said the wedding party was for one of its members. The groom was among those injured, but the bride was not hurt.
The attack came as Iraqi Kurdish guerillas advanced in Northern Syria, and Turkey prepared to launch an operation to capture a town held by Islamic State near the Turkish border.
Turkey was been wracked by bombings by Kurdish PKK guerillas since the coup, making Turkey’s military and intelligence apparatus appear helpless as they focus on rooting out followers of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric Erdogan blames for the failed coup.
The HDP blamed Erdogan for allowing Gaziantep to become “a nest for Islamic State”, and ignoring intelligence that IS planned to attack a Kurdish wedding.
Erdogan said at the weekend that there is “absolutely no difference” between IS, Kurdish secessionists and Gulen’s followers — they are all terrorist groups. “These bloodthirsty organisations and the powers behind them have neither the will nor power to silence the calls to prayer, lower the flag, divide our motherland and break up our nation,” he added.