An explosion rocked the Turkish city of Suruc near the Syrian border, killing 30 people and wounding nearly 100 others in what Turkish authorities said appeared to be an Islamic State-inspired suicide bombing.
The mid-day explosion took place at a cultural centre in Suruc as a political group, the Federation of Socialist Youths, was wrapping up a news conference on plans to rebuild the Syrian city of Kobani, a witness said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but one senior government official said Turkey suspected IS was behind the blast in its southeastern city.
Suruc is just across the border from Kobani, the scene of fierce battles between Kurdish groups and the Islamic State group. The city, populated heavily by Syrian Kurds, was the Islamic State group’s biggest defeat last year since the militants established control over large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Its ruins have become a symbol of Kurdish resistance.
Fatma Edemen, 22, said the federation of about 200 youths had been pressing for more access to help reconstruction in Kobani before the blast that police told her came from a suicide bomber.
“One of my friends protected me. First I thought ‘I am dying’ but I was OK. I started to run after I saw the bodies,” she said as she headed for treatment for minor injuries to her legs.
Her voice shaking, she said her group had believed Kobani was relatively safe and ready to rebuild.
“Our friends went there and it didn’t seem dangerous at that time. We couldn’t even think something like that would happen,” she said, adding that they had hoped to build a kindergarten for children in the devastated city.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 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,” Erdogan said in a news conference broadcast on Turkish television.
Another explosion went off yesterday south of Kobani. One Kurdish official initially described it as a bomb, but Kurdish official Mustafa Bali later said it happened as Kurdish militiamen were removing mortar shells from a dump. He said the blast killed three Kurdish fighters.
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