At least 22 of the victims in a suicide bomb attack on a wedding party in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep at the weekend were under the age of 14, a government official said on Monday.
A suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14 carried out the attack that killed at least 51 people, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, adding that initial evidence suggested it was orchestrated by Islamic State.
The official said the toll of 51 dead did not include the bomber. Officials said a destroyed suicide vest was found at the scene of what was the deadliest in a series of bombings in Turkey this year.
Islamic State has been blamed for other similar attacks in Turkey, often targeting Kurdish gatherings in an effort to inflame ethnic tensions. The deadliest was last October, when suicide bombers killed more than 100 people at a rally of pro-Kurdish and labor activists in Ankara.
Saturday’s attack comes with Turkey still in shock just a month after the government survived an attempted coup by rogue military officers, which Ankara blames on U.S.-based Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen. Gulen denies the charge.
Forty-four of the 51 victims have so far been identified, according to the private Dogan news agency. Witnesses said a three-month-old baby was among the dead.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said the wedding party was for one of its members. The groom was among those injured, but the bride was not hurt. Dogan said they were relatives who migrated from the southeastern province of Siirt.
(Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan)