Turkiye, World

Erdogan: Early signs point to Daesh in wedding blast

Suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14 suspected to be involved in wedding attack, which killed at least 51 people

Erdogan: Early signs point to Daesh in wedding blast



President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said early signs point to Daesh's involvement in Saturday's deadly blast that targeted a wedding ceremony in southeast Turkey.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul Sunday, Erdogan said a suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14 was involved in the attack, adding the bomber either blew himself up or was remotely detonated.

Commenting on the latest casualty toll, the president said 51 people were killed and 69 others were wounded, including 17 critically.

"The initial findings of the governor and our police forces indicate the attack has been perpetrated by Daesh. As you know, Daesh is trying to position and organize itself in Gaziantep. Security operations have been conducted and are still being conducted against the terrorist organization,” Erdogan said.

"Last night [Saturday], they [terrorists] used children aged 12-14 years as a human bomb to carry out an attack at a wedding in Gaziantep. Currently, 69 people wounded, 17 seriously, are being treated at the hospital. The death toll is now 51,” he said.

"To preserve perennially our unity and brotherhood, we must all face these terrorist organizations. In our view, all these terrorist groups, whether the PKK, FETO, Daesh or PYD /YPG in Syria, are all the same. All together, like we did against the coup bid of July 15, we will overcome these difficulties," he said.

About the defeated coup Erdogan said: "I do not think our military and our police are totally cleared of FETO elements. That is why we will continue our actions to clean up all our state and public institutions of these traitors so that we no longer face such threats."

The attack took place in the Beybahce neighborhood of the Gaziantep province’s Sahinbey district around 10.50 p.m. (1950GMT) on Saturday, according to the Gaziantep Governor's Office.

- Biden's visit to Turkey

About U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's upcoming visit to Turkey and the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, Erdogan said the U.S.' approach to the issue had been "unsatisfactory".

"We have so far sent [to the U.S.] 85 packages [and] documents about FETO, before and after July 15 [coup bid]. They say they have started to investigate the documents. I personally do not find this development satisfactory for us," Erdogan said, adding: "Because if a party demands the extradition under the binding agreement from another party, then they should return the criminal to the demanding party."

A treaty on extradition and mutual assistance in criminal matters between Turkey and United States was signed in Ankara on June 7, 1979, which entered into force on January 1, 1981.

Erdogan said the issue would be conveyed to Biden "straight forwardly" during his visit.

"We have never stalled the U.S.' demands on extradition, saying 'we need documents, proof and information and then we can return [the concerned person]'," the president added.

Biden will pay a two-day official visit to Turkey on coming Wednesday. He will be the most senior U.S. official to visit Turkey since last month’s defeated putsch. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford visited the country on August 1.

Turkey's government has said the defeated coup, which left 240 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured, was organized by followers of Fetullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999, and his FETO network.

Gulen is accused of leading a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the parallel state.

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