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Istanbul: Turkey seeks to identify IS child bomber

Turkish Authorities Scrambled Today To Identify A Child Suicide Bomber Acting On The Orders Of Islamic State Jihadists Who Killed 54 People Including Several Children At A Kurdish Wedding Close To The Syrian Border.

PTI | Updated on: 23 Aug 2016, 12:08:21 PM


Turkish authorities scrambled today to identify a child suicide bomber acting on the orders of Islamic State jihadists who killed 54 people including several children at a Kurdish wedding close to the Syrian border.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the IS group needed to be completely pushed out of the border zone inside Syria, as activists said Ankara-backed rebels were preparing an offensive against the group.

The attack late Saturday on a crowded street wedding in the city of Gaziantep was the latest in a devastating series of bombings in Turkey at a time when the country is riven by internal upheaval and shaken by the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the bomber was aged “between 12 and 14” and that initial findings showed it had been “perpetrated by Daesh (IS)”.

Media said the majority of those dead were children or teenagers, with 29 of the 44 victims identified so far aged under 18. At least 22 victims were under 14, a Turkish official added.

There were no further details on the bomber, but Erdogan said IS had been trying to “position itself” in Gaziantep, which lies just 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of Syria and is a major hub for refugees from the more than five-year civil war.

The death toll rose to 54 after three more died in hospital in the early morning, the Dogan news agency reported.

Sixty-six people were still in hospital, 14 of them in a serious condition. Television pictures showed fire brigade workers hosing down the area of the attack with water in a clean-up.

The Hurriyet daily said DNA tests were under way to ascertain the bomber’s identity, nationality and gender.

The bomber may have come over the border from Syria but IS is also known to have built homegrown cells inside Turkey in Gaziantep and even Istanbul, wrote its well-connected columnist Abdulkadir Selvi.

He said Turkish security forces believed the attack had been timed as retaliation by jihadists for offensives both by Kurdish militias and pro-Ankara Syrian opposition forces against IS in Syria.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, hundreds of rebel fighters were preparing inside Turkish territory to launch an offensive on the IS-held Syrian town of Jarablus.

Without explicitly confirming the rebel offensive, Cavusoglu said Turkey backed anyone fighting against IS and would itself fight the group “to the end”.

“Our border must be completely cleansed from Daesh,” he said in televised remarks, using an Arabic acronym for the IS group.


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First Published : 23 Aug 2016, 12:04:00 PM