Death toll in Gaziantep wedding bombing rises to 54; over half are children

By Andrew V. Pestano

GAZIANTEP, Turkey, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The death toll in the Gaziantep wedding bombing in Turkey has risen to 54. Authorities said about half of those killed -- 29 -- were children.

The bombing was carried out by a child aged 12 to 14 on Saturday, possibly under the direction of the Islamic State, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. About 44 victims have been identified and buried. The death toll rose after three people died while receiving treatment in hospitals.


About 66 people injured, 14 of which critically, are in hospitals receiving treatment. The blast occurred in the city of Gaziantep, about 60 miles north of the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo. More than 200 people were packed into a street in the district of Sahinbey for the Kurdish wedding when the explosion occurred around 11 p.m on Saturday.

Erdogan in a statement before his television appearance said there is "no difference" between the IS, which is based in neighboring Syria, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and what the Turkish government is calling the Fethullah Terrorist Organization, followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan blames Gulen for the July 15 failed coup d'etat in which 240 people were killed and has called for his extradition by the United States.


"Our country and our nation have again only one message to those who attack us -- you will not succeed," Erdogan said Sunday. "Those, who cannot overcome Turkey and try to provoke people by abusing ethnic and sectarian sensitiveness will not prevail."

Allen Cone contributed to this report.

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