Pictures show tragic aftermath of suicide bomb attack on Kurdish wedding party that killed 51 people

'They turned our best day into hell' - distraught Turkish bride and groom speak of Gaziantep wedding traumaReuters

Turkey witnessed the deadliest in a series of bombings on Saturday (20 August 2016) after a suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14 carried out an attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep, located near the Syrian border.

Ambulances arrive at site of an explosion in Gaziantep following a late night militant attack on a wedding party in southeastern TurkeyAFP/Getty
First-aid officers carry an injured man to hospital in Gaziantep, following a late-night militant attack on a wedding party in southeastern TurkeyAhemed Deep/AFP

According to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the explosion killed at least 51 people, with 69 people in hospital. 17 are said to be "heavily injured". He said the Islamic State (Isis) was likely behind the attack.

The bomb went off as guests spilled out into the streets of the city following the traditional henna night party, when guests have their hands and feet painted.

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The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said the wedding party was for one of its members. Witnesses said that women and children, including a three-month-old baby, were among the dead. The groom was among those injured, but the bride was unharmed.

The attack comes a month after Erdogan and the Turkish government survived an attempted coup by military officers. Ankara blames the attempted coup on US-based Islamist preacher Fetullah Guelen, who has denied the charges.

A boy stands near impacts of projectile on a wall near the explosion scene following a late-night attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian borderIlyas Akengin/AFP
A person shows pieces of projectile near the explosion scene following a late night attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian borderIlyas Akengin/AFP
Women cry during a funeral for a victim of last night's attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian borderIlyas Akengin/AFP

Turkey began air strikes against Isis in July 2015, months after suicide bombers killed more than 100 people during a rally of pro-Kurdish and labor activists in Ankara. Since then, Turkey has seen more attacks including the suspected IS suicide bombers who killed 44 people at Istanbul's main airport back in June. Kilis, located half an hour away from Gaziantep, has been repeatedly hit by rockets and shells fired from Islamic State territory, often killing civilians.

"Isis has been trying to agitate or exploit already tense ethnic and sectarian faultlines to retaliate for the advancement of Syrian Kurds in the north of Syria and by Turkey's attack on Isis targets in Syria," Metin Gurcan said, an independent security analyst and retired Turkish military officer who writes a column for Al-Monitor. "For Isis it is hitting two birds with one stone."

People stand near the explosion scene following a late night attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian borderIlyas Akengin/AFP
A damaged house is seen after a suspected suicide bomber targeted a wedding celebration in GaziantepOsman Orsal/Reuters
Debris is seen following the explosion after a late-night attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian borderIlyas Akengin/AFP
A woman pauses as she sits near the scene of an explosion where a suspected suicide bomber targeted a wedding celebration in GaziantepOsman Orsal/Reuters
People watch the explosion scene following a late-night attack on a wedding party that left at least 30 dead in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian borderAFP/Getty

Funerals were held for the victims the day after the attack, yet some bodies were unable to be identified due to the scale of the explosion, and families will have to wait for DNA tests before they can be laid to rest.

"Every type of death is painful. But it is even more painful when it comes with religious slogans. It is even more painful when they mix religion with politics," Omer Emlik, who said he was an uncle of two of the victims, told Reuters. "All the people here are suffering."

A woman cries at the morgue as she waits for the coffin of her relative, killed during the attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep in Turkey, near the Syrian borderAhmed Deep/AFP
A man cries as people stand around a coffin during a funeral for victims of the attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian borderAhmed Deep/AFP
A man bends on a coffin as people mourn during a funeral for victims of the attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian borderIlyas Akengin/AFP
Women gesture as they kneel by a grave at a cemetery during the funeral for the victims of the attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian borderIlyas Akengin/AFP
People wait close to empty graves at a cemetery during the funeral for the victims of the attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian borderIlyas Akengin/AFP

On Sunday (21 August), Erdogan and ruling AK Party lawmakers emphasised that they see IS as no different to the Kurdish separatist PKK and the group led by Gulen, all three classified by Turkey as terrorist organisations. Some in Turkey believe that the government has not done enough to protect its citizens from IS.

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