New Delhi, August 21: The suicide attacker who claimed 51 lives in the Turkish city of Gaziantep was a child between the age of 12-15, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan said on Sunday. The attack targeted a Kurdish wedding party and has been linked to Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State (IS) which has been battling Syrian Kurdish Forces in Gaziantep. The city, situated near the Syrian border, is known to be a base for many IS operatives. In Saturday night’s attack, at least 69 people have been injured out of which 17 are reportedly in a critical condition, Erdogan said.
Due to the city’s proximity to the strife-torn country, Gaziantep – home to 1.3 million people – is already vulnerable to violence. The city is 120 km from Aleppo, one of the most volatile cities in Syria. Moreover, Turkey has been hit by quite a few terror attacks in the past months. One of the major attacks was the blast at Istanbul airport in June which killed more than 40 people.
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The Kurdish people are an ethnic minority in Turkey and are often subjected to ostracism, particularly by the government. Erdogan said in a statement to local media that there is “no difference” between IS, PKK (Kurdish militants), and Gulenist (followers of Fethullah Gulen, accused of plotting the Turkish coup last month), BBC reported.
Turkey’s security forces have been battling Kurdish militants for years now. A number of attacks on Turkish soil in the past were carried out by PKK (the Kurdish Worker’s Party), a militant organisation banned in the country. A suicide car bombing in Ankara in March killed at least 37 people, for which the PKK claimed responsibility.