“They turned our wedding into a bloodbath,” said bride Besna Akdogan on Sunday as she left hospital after a suicide bombing killed 51 people at her wedding in southeastern Turkey.
The funerals of some of the victims took place, meanwhile, with feelings running high in the town of Gaziantep near the Syrian border where hundreds gathered following Saturday’s bombing.
Shouts of “shame on you, Erdogan” rang out as others threw water bottles at police, amid anger at the president for not doing more to prevent the attack on a Kurdish wedding which the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said the Islamic State group had threatened to carry out.
A lawmaker from President Recep Erdogan’s Ruling Justice and Development Party for Gaziantep had hoped to attend the funerals but pulled out when the extent of the anger became clear.
“I lost my children, now I will never see them again,” wailed one woman confronted with the sight of rows of freshly dug graves.
Erdogan said earlier that the attack — the deadliest in 2016 — had involved a child aged between 12 and 14, adding that IS was the likely perpetrator of the bombing on a wedding that had many Kurdish guests.
– Suicide vest –
With 69 people still in hospital, 17 in a critical condition, the HDP said warnings about IS’s growing foothold in Gaziantep had fallen on deaf ears. IS see Kurds as enemies due to the prominent role of Kurdish militias in fighting the jihadists.
“Over the years, step by step, Gaziantep became a host for IS. For a long time, people who lived in the province said IS was building up a presence,” it said in a statement.
After twin suicide bombings targeting a pro-Kurdish peace rally in Ankara in October 2015 killed 103 people, IS had warned it would attack a Kurdish wedding, it added.
“Unfortunately, the political powers did not take the necessary steps to prevent these plans despite warnings,” it said.
The remains of a suicide vest were found at the scene on Sunday, according to the chief prosecutor’s office.
An AFP photographer who visited the scene found body parts still strewn across the ground along with victims’ belongings.
In a room of a house near to where the bomber struck, debris could be seen everywhere with windows flung open and walls pockmarked with bomb damage.
At local hospitals, relatives of the injured gathered to await news of their loved ones.
Some fainted in the heat as they struggled to comprehend the scale of the loss of life.
The bombing is the seventh major attack in Turkey this year blamed on either IS or The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a radical offshoot of the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).