An explosion has killed at least 31 in a municipal culture center in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa’s Suruç district, as scores of people have been hospitalized.
"We are concerned that the number of death will increase. The perpetrators will soon be found and put on trial," Turkey's interior minister said in a statement on July 20.
Upon his arrival in Şanlıurfa, Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk announced that the death toll was 30. “We believe that it is a suicide bomb attack. No name has yet been designated concerning identity of the suicide bomber,” Öztürk also said.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş confirmed late July 20 that the death toll reached to 31.
There is speculation that the blast was caused by a 18-year-old female suicide bomber from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“We will not only condemn this attack but we will also find those responsible and bring them to justice. This attack targeted peace, democracy and public order in Turkey,” said Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in a press conference in Ankara.
Davutoğlu confirmed ISIL was the prime suspect, adding that 43 people, 9 of them with serious injuries, were hospitalized after the attack. He also called on all political parties to come together and issue a joint statement condemning terrorism.
Kobane event of socialist youths targeted
At least 300 members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) were staying at the Amara Culture Center as part of a summer expedition to help rebuild Kobane, which lies directly across the border from Suruç.
The culture center, which is run by the Suruç Municipality under the control of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), frequently hosts visiting journalists and volunteers who work with refugees from Kobane, which had been repeatedly attacked by ISIL in the past months.
Upon his arrival in Nicosia for an official visit, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called authorities, including Şanlıurfa Gov. İzzettin Küçük, in order to get further information concerning the attack, sources from the presidential office told the state-run Anadolu Agency.
The Health Ministry has dispatched 33 land ambulances, each with three paramedic staff on board and a helicopter ambulance.
According to a statement by the ministry, there is no blood stock shortage, while intensive care units at nearby provinces have been instructed to remain on alert.
Kadir Ergün, an eyewitness, told CNNTürk that he was 100 meters away from the explosion. "It is hard to describe it with words. Blood donations are urgently needed. The people of Suruç are now called to donate blood," he added.
İsmail Kaplan, the HDP's deputy head in Suruç district, told journalists that a simultaneous suicide bombing hit the town center of Kobane, too. Speaking to daily Hürriyet, security sources in Ankara have confirmed this claim.
"If it is Daesh [ISIL], it will not stay in Suruç. Very soon we could end up like Syria," said Muhsin Kızılkaya, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Following the attack, the U.K. Embassy in Ankara has also updated its travel advice for Turkey, underlining that terrorist attacks by various groups could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners.
“Border crossings into Syria and nearby locations have also been targeted,” the Embassy said, referring to the July 20 attack.
The hashtag #SuruçtaKatliamVar (There is a massacre in Suruç) entered the worldwide trending topics list on Twitter soon after the explosion.
"It's a big massacre. The probability of a suicide bomber is very high," HDP deputy Leyla Güven told Habertürk. "Suspect information has been provided related to the number of deaths. Some say that everyone in the group died."