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Scores killed in explosion at Turkish cultural centre near Syrian border

© DICLE NEWS AGENCY / AFP I The scene after the explosion in the town of Suruc in Sanliurfa, on July 20, 2015, not far from the Syrian border

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-07-21

An explosion outside a cultural centre in the Turkish town of Suruc near the border with Syria killed at least 31 people and wounded dozens more on Monday, in an attack Ankara attributed to the militant IS group.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately condemned the bombing, calling it a terrorist attack.

"We are drowning in grief that 28 citizens died and a large number of people were injured as a result of an act of terror," Erdogan said during a visit to the Turkish breakaway state in northern Cyprus. "On behalf of my people, I curse and condemn the perpetrators of this brutality."

The Turkish interior ministry also said that initial evidence indicated it "was a suicide attack by the Islamic State [group]".

Television footage showed bodies lying beneath trees outside the building in the mostly Kurdish town in southeastern Turkey, which lies some 10 kilometres from the Syrian border.

"I saw more than 20 bodies. I think the number of wounded is more than 50. They are still being put into ambulances," one witness told Reuters by telephone, giving his name as Mehmet. "It was a huge explosion, we all shook."

Pervin Buldan, a senior lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish HDP opposition party, said local officials were investigating the possibility that it was a suicide bombing.

She said the blast happened as Turkish and Kurdish youths gathered at the cultural centre ahead of a planned trip to the town of Kobane in Syria, which was secured by Syrian Kurdish fighters last month after an assault by Islamic State (IS) group militants.

"Turkish and Kurdish youth had come to cross into Kobane, and there were three or four days of activities planned," she said, adding that HDP lawmakers were on their way to the scene.

A Turkish security official said 20-25 people had been wounded and confirmed that some had been killed, but could not immediately say how many.

A video posted on Facebook by one of the group of youth activists showed at least 20 people lying on the ground, some still alive. People milled about trying to comfort the wounded, as others cried out.

Smoke and dust rose from the ground while nearby hospitals made urgent requests for blood donations.

"Ambulances and private cars are picking up the wounded. Many were killed - 20 or 30. I am going to the hospital to help out," said Adham Basho, a local politician.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

 

Date created : 2015-07-20

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