Explosion in Turkey kills 28, injures 100

By: KLKN Newsroom

8@klkntv.com

(AP) 

A midday explosion rocked the Turkish city of Suruc near the Syrian border on Monday, killing 28 people and sending nearly 100 others to the hospital in what appears to be a suicide bombing, Turkish authorities said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but one senior government official told The Associated Press that Turkey suspected the Islamic State group was behind the blast in the southeastern city.

Suruc is just across the border from the Syrian city of Kobani, the scene of fierce battles between Kurdish groups and the Islamic State group. Kobani, a city populated heavily by Syrian Kurds, was the Islamic State group's biggest defeat last year since the militants established control over large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Its ruins have become a symbol of Kurdish resistance.

The blast Monday occurred at a cultural center in Suruc as a political group, the Federation of Socialist Youths, was holding a news conference on plans to rebuild Kobani, a witness said.

Fatma Edemen, 22, said the federation of about 200 youths was pressing for access to help reconstruction in Kobani. The bomb exploded as their press conference was ending.

"We just heard from the cops that it was a suicide bomber," she told The AP, speaking as she headed to a hospital to get treatment for minor injuries to her legs. "One of my friends protected me. First I thought 'I am dying' but I was OK. I started to run after I saw the bodies."

Speaking by phone, her voice shaking, she said the group had believed Kobani was relatively safe and ready to rebuild.

"Our friends went there and it didn't seem dangerous at that time. We couldn't even think something like that would happen," she said, adding that they hoped to build a kindergarten or something else for children in the devastated city.

"We wanted to do something, but they would not let us," she added.

The prime minister's office and the Interior Ministry gave the blast's casualty tolls in a phone call to The AP and in a statement. The senior Turkish official said authorities had evidence that the attack was a suicide bombing. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

A second bomb went off Monday south of Kobani near a Kurdish militia checkpoint on the road to Syria's largest city of Aleppo, according to Idriss Naasan, a Kurdish official in Kobani. It caused minor damage and no casualties, he said.

Suruc hosts the largest refugee camp in Turkey, which has seen nearly two million Syrians cross its border to flee the fighting in their homeland.

More than 220,000 people have been killed and at least a million wounded since Syria's crisis began in March 2011, according to the U.N.

Kobani was also the scene of surprise IS attacks last month that killed more than 200 people.

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