Monday 26 September 2016

Isis suspected of carrying out suicide bombing in Turkey that killed 31 people

Published 20/07/2015 | 21:28

Medics carry out a body after an explosion in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc, near the Syrian border, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo)
Medics carry out a body after an explosion in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc, near the Syrian border, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo)
Police forensic experts examine after an explosion in Suruc in the southeastern Sanliurfa province, Turkey, July 20, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Covered bodies lie on the ground as forensics and medics work at the explosion site after an explosion killed tens of people and injured scores of others in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc near the Syrian border, Turkey, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo)
Dead bodies are covered by newspapers at the explosion site where tens of people were killed and scores others injured, in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc near the Syrian border, Turkey, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo)
Dead bodies are covered by newspapers at the explosion site where tens of people were killed and scores others injured, in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc near the Syrian border, Turkey, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo)
The body of a victim, covered by newspapers, lies next to a coffin after an explosion in Suruc in the southeastern Sanliurfa province, Turkey, July 20, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmet Bulte/Ihlas News Agency
Dead bodies are covered by newspapers at the site of an explosion that killed tens of people and injured scores others is seen in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc near the Syrian border, Turkey, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo)
Dead bodies are covered by newspapers at the site of an explosion that killed tens of people and injured scores others is seen in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc near the Syrian border, Turkey, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo)
A wounded man sits on a step following an explosion in Suruc, in the southeastern Sanliurfa province, Turkey, July 20, 2015. REUTERS/Ozcan Soysal/Depo Photos
People help the wounded after an explosion in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc near the Syrian border, Turkey, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Ozcan Soysal )

Authorities suspect the Islamic State group was behind an apparent suicide bombing in south-eastern Turkey that killed 31 people and wounded nearly 100.

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The attack could represent a major expansion by the extremists at a time when the Turkish government is stepping up efforts against them.

Officials vowed to strike back at those behind the attack in the city of Suruc targeting a group of political activists who wanted to help the shattered Syrian city of Kobani, a bombing that turned a moment of hope into a scene of horror.

"We are face to face with a terrorism incident," prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. "We have the willpower to find and certainly punish those who are responsible."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but a senior government official said Turkey suspected IS was behind the blast as retaliation for Turkey's steps against the militants.

The explosion took place as the Federation of Socialist Youths was wrapping up a news conference on plans to help rebuild Kobani, a witness said.

Suruc is just across the border from Kobani, the town that was the site of fierce battles between Kurdish groups and IS fighters.

The fall of Kobani, heavily populated by Syrian Kurds, was the biggest defeat last year for the militants since they established control over large parts of Iraq and Syria. Its ruins have become a symbol of Kurdish resistance.

Read more: No Irish casualties involved in Turkish suicide blast

If IS was behind the bombing, it would represent the group's most serious attack inside Turkey. A female suicide bomber with suspected ties to IS blew herself up in a tourist district of Istanbul in January, killing a police officer and wounding another.

In recent weeks, Turkey has taken new steps against IS, blocking websites and arresting suspected followers in the country, officials said.

Witnesses to the latest blast described scenes of carnage and shock. Because the activists' news conference was being recorded, the attack and its immediate aftermath were captured in widely circulated video.

Fatma Edemen said the federation of about 200 youths had been pressing for more access to Kobani to help with reconstruction.

The group was chanting "Long live the resistance of Kobani!" when the explosion tore through the crowd, she said.

IS militants carried out surprise attacks in Kobani last month that killed more than 200 people.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was in Cyprus on an official visit, was briefed on the investigation, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

"I personally and on behalf of my nation condemn and curse those who perpetrated this savagery," Mr Erdogan said in a news conference broadcast on Turkish television.

Press Association

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