The death toll from a suspected suicide bombing at a wedding in southeastern Turkey has risen to 50 people, according to local officials, as cited by Reuters. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Islamic State for carrying out the blast.
The local governor’s office confirmed in a statement that 50 people had died in the bombing, while a number of injured people are being treated at hospitals around the province. This is the deadliest attack to have struck Turkey in 2016.
The suspected bomber is believed to have detonated a suicide belt at a Kurdish wedding party in the city of Gaziantep, not far from the Syrian border.
A prosecutor’s office said they had uncovered a destroyed suicide vest at the site of the blast.
The bride and groom survived the attack, however the groom did suffer injuries, a local official said, as cited by Reuters.
“The celebrations were coming to an end and there was a big explosion among people dancing,” 25-year-old Veli Can said, according to Reuters. “There was blood and body parts everywhere.”
Mahmut Togrul, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) told Reuters that it was a Kurdish wedding.
“It was carried out like an atrocity,” Ibrahim Ozdemir said, referring to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). “We want to end these massacres. We are in pain, especially the women and children.”
President Erdogan has placed the blame for the attack on IS, which has carried out numerous atrocities across Turkey in recent months. He called the attack a “heinous” bombing.
The attack also comes a month after a failed coup attempt against Erdogan. He has accused the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and his supporters of being behind the attempted power grab.
Erdogan says there is “absolutely no difference” between IS, Kurdish rebels in the southeast of Turkey or Gulen’s supporters, saying they are all terrorist organizations.
“These bloodthirsty organizations 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 said, as cited by AP.
Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, who is in Gaziantep, said that Ankara would not “yield” to the terrorists.
“This is a massacre of unprecedented cruelty and barbarity,” he told reporters. “We … are united against all terror organizations. They will not yield.”
Meanwhile, the prime minister said the attack had turned “a wedding party into a place of mourning” and said that Turkey would triumph against these “devilish” attacks.
Police are currently examining the site of the alleged suicide bombing, while hundreds of local residents gathered near the site shouting “Allah is great,” as well as slogans denouncing attacks, according to AP.