A day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blamed a 12- 14-year-old child for a suicide attack at a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep city, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Monday that officials cannot verify if the perpetrator was a minor or an adult.
Saturday’s bombing claimed over 50 lives, of which at least 22 were aged below 14. While the attack has not been claimed by any group, Erdoğan said the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, was behind the blast and a child, not more than 14 years old, was the perpetrator.
However, Yıldırım backtracked on the president’s statement, saying: “We are not in a position to verify anything about who the perpetrator was — if it was a child, an adult, or for which organization. We do not have a clue about who the perpetrators behind the attack were. Early information on who did the attack, in what organization’s name, is unfortunately not right.”
It remained unclear what made Yıldırım retract Erdoğan’s statement entirely.
The suicide bombing happened at a time of ongoing tensions between the government and members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that is banned in Turkey. The attack also comes after last month’s military coup attempt that the government blamed on U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen and his supporters.
Meanwhile, Turkish officials said that they found a destroyed suicide vest at the bombing site. A security official told Reuters that they were looking into two possibilities over how the attack may have been executed. The first one was that militants could have put the explosives on a child without his or her knowledge and exploded them remotely and another possibility is that a child with a learning disability was tricked into carrying the explosives — a tactic, Reuters reported, that was seen somewhere else in the region.
Another senior security official told the news agency that the device used for the wedding bombing was the same type used in 2015 blasts at a pro-Kurdish rally in capital Ankara and suicide attack in the border town of Suruc. Both the attacks were blamed on ISIS.