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At least 30 killed and 94 hurt in wedding blast in Turkey

At least 30 killed and 94 hurt in wedding blast in Turkey
Ambulances arrive after an explosion in Gaziantep on Aug. 20. (AFP / Getty Images)

A bomb attack targeting an outdoor wedding party in southeastern Turkey killed at least 30 people Saturday and wounded 94 others, authorities said.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said the "barbaric" attack in the city of Gaziantep, near the border with Syria, appeared to be a suicide bombing. Other officials said it could have been carried out by either Kurdish militants or Islamic State extremists.

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Photos taken after the explosion showed several bodies covered with white sheets as a crowd gathered nearby.

The Gaziantep governor's office early Sunday raised the death toll from 22 to 30. It said the number of wounded remained at 94.

Turkey has been rocked by a wave of attacks in the past year that have either been claimed by Kurdish militants linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party — known by the acronym PKK — or been blamed on Islamic State. In June, suspected Islamic State militants attacked Istanbul's main airport with guns and bombs, killing 44 people.

The attack comes as the country is still reeling from last month's failed coup attempt, which the government has blamed on U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers.

Earlier this week, a string of bombings that targeted police and soldiers and were blamed on the PKK killed at least a dozen people. A fragile, 2½-year-long peace process between the PKK and the government collapsed last year, leading to a resumption of the three-decades-long conflict.

Simsek, interviewed on NTV television, said, "This was a barbaric attack. It appears to be a suicide attack. All terror groups, the PKK, Daesh, the [Gulen movement] are targeting Turkey. But God willing, we will overcome." Daesh is an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

A brief statement from the Gaziantep governor's office said the bomb attack on the wedding in the Sahinbey district occurred at 10:50 p.m. The statement condemned the attack as "treacherous" but did not provide further details.

Mehmet Tascioglu, a local journalist, told NTV television that the huge explosion could be heard in many parts of the city.

In Gaziantep, police sealed off the site of the explosion and forensic teams moved in. Hundreds of residents gathered near the site chanting "God is great" as well as slogans denouncing terrorist attacks.

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UPDATES:

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5:40 p.m.: This article was updated with an increased death toll and information about other recent attacks in Turkey.

This article was originally published at 4:55 p.m.

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