At least 22 people were killed and almost 100 wounded in a suspected suicide bombing at a Turkish wedding on Saturday. The suicide bomber targeted wedding celebrations in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, the governor confirmed, marking it the latest surge in violence in the Kurdish southeast.
Authorities have halted all media coverage of the “barbaric” attack, but reports on social media show a suicide bomber blowing himself up right next to a huge outdoor wedding.
Turkish national broadcaster NTV confirmed the news, saying a “terrorist attack” had targeted an outdoor wedding celebration.
At least 22 people were killed and 94 injured in the alleged terrorist attack, according to the governor’s office.
#BREAKING 22 dead, 94 injured in Turkey wedding attack: Gaziantep governor
— AFP news agency (@AFP) August 20, 2016
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, a parliamentary deputy from the ruling AK Party, Samil Tayyar, said that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists were believed to be behind the blast.
Numerous ambulances have been dispatched to the area. According to scarce media reports, the injured, which include children, have been taken to at least four hospitals in the city, and blood donations are urgently needed to save their lives.
Gaziantep Governor Ali Yerlikaya has released a statement saying the blast was an attack by “terrorist organizations,” according to Turkish Haberturk news outlet.
Gaziantep'teki hain saldırıda çok sayıda can kaybı ve yaralı var. Teröre, teröriste ve destekçisine lanet olsun pic.twitter.com/qzOFRxZN8o
— Hasan Cücük (@HasanCucuk) August 20, 2016
“The aim of terror is to scare the people but we will not allow this,” said Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Gaziantep’s representative in the Turkish parliament Mehmet Simsek, adding “it is barbaric to attack a wedding,” as cited by AFP.
Prior to the attack, the governorship of the province declared a 15-day special security zone near the border with Syria. The decision to invoke extra security measures followed a recent Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) rocket attack that came from the Syrian side of the border, striking a Turkish town called Karkamış in Gaziantep Province. Special security zones allow authorities to search all types of border traffic in the area.
In the meantime, Turkish media authorities (RTUK) have temporarily suspended the broadcast of information regarding the deadly blast, citing national security concerns. In making the announcement, the government watchdog said that the measures had been introduced in order to avoid spreading “fear in the community which could create panic and chaos.” It also noted that publications defying the order could “serve the purpose of terrorist organizations” responsible for the blast.
Broadcasters are banned from showing scenes from the moment of the explosion, scenes after the explosion, and first responders and public officials working at the scene. Showing scenes of the injured or the dead are also prohibited.