TERRORISM

Islamic State suicide bomber kills 30 in Turkish town near Syrian border

Most of the dead were university students who had been planning a mission to help Kobane residents.

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 July, 2015, 1:16am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 July, 2015, 1:16am
AFP

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A suicide bomber yesterday attacked a cultural centre hosting anti-Islamic State (IS) activists in a Turkish town near the border with Syria, killing 30 people in an "act of terror" blamed on the jihadist group.

The blast ripped through the centre in Suruc, a town opposite the Syrian flashpoint of Kobane - which was itself later hit by a suicide car bombing.

Most of the dead were university students who had been planning a mission to help Kobane residents, according to a pro-Kurdish party official.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on a visit to northern Cyprus, condemned the attack as an "act of terror".

"On behalf of my people, I curse and condemn the perpetrators of this brutality," he said. "Terror must be condemned no matter where it comes from."

The force of the explosion blew out the windows of the building and set off a blaze, witnesses said. Television footage showed several people lying on the ground covered in blood and ambulances rushing to the scene.

"Turkish authorities have strong reason to believe the terrorist attack was perpetrated by ISIS," a government official said.

If confirmed, it would be the first such attack by IS fighters against Turkey, a regional military power and Nato member.

The blast took place as an anti-IS group based at the cultural centre was preparing to announce a mission to Kobane.

Alp Altinors from the pro-Kurdish HDP party said the group from the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations was made up of about 300 people, mainly university students from across Turkey.

"They were planning to build parks in Kobane, hand out toys for children and paint school walls," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the "barbaric act" and released a statement saying: "Fighting terrorism requires an active cooperation from the whole international community."

EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a Twitter message: "Tragic consequences of Syrian conflict felt in a neighbouring country."

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is sending three ministers to the southeastern region following the bombing, his office announced.

"We are calling on everyone to show common sense in the face of this terrorist attack," the interior ministry said.

In Kobane, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at a checkpoint, killing two members of Kurdish security forces, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.