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Armed assailants attack wedding, killing dozens

Video by Sarah DRURY

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-05-05

Turkish officials say an attack on a wedding party in mainly Kurdish south-eastern Turkey that left 44 people dead was most likely the result of a family blood feud. Eight people have been detained in connection with the assault.

Masked armed gunmen burst into a wedding party in a Turkish village on Monday, killing 44 people in what could have been the result of a blood feud between families.

Eight suspects have been detained in relation to the bloodbath, Turkey’s Interior Minister Besir Atalay said on Tuesday. He said the dead included six children and 16 women.

Reporting from Ankara, FRANCE 24’s Jasper Mortimer said four masked gunmen entered the private home where the wedding was taking place and "literally killed everybody in sight".

“Police and paramilitary police have cordoned off the village,” he said, adding that search operations continued.

Armed with rifles and grenades, gunmen stormed the house where the wedding was taking place in Bilge, a village in south-east Turkey near the Syrian border, on Monday evening, reports say.

“A 19-year-old woman who survived the attack said the gunmen ordered the people into one room and just shot everyone,” said Mortimer. Reports, however, on how the attack took place are conflicting.

A blood feud?

Local media said the families of both the bride and groom included members of the Village Guard, a heavily armed, state-backed militia set up to combat Kurdish guerrillas and patrol Turkey’s windswept mountains.

Turkey’s south-east provinces have been very unstable since rebels belonging to Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 to create their homeland.

But Turkey’s interior minister rules out the possibility that the PKK was behind the bloodbath. “Evidence so far shows that it was not the work of a terrorist group,” said Besir Atalay, “but the prosecutor is working on the case and should have a clearer idea soon of what happened.”

Date created : 2009-05-05

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