A Suicide Bombing Occurred in Turkey

August 21st 2016

Aron Macarow

A wedding ended in carnage over the weekend when a suicide bombing in Turkey killed at least 51 people and injured another 94, leaving 17 individuals in critical condition. The deadly attack occurred around 10:50 p.m. Saturday evening in a Kurdish area of the city, according to officials.

Witnesses reported that more than 200 celebrants had squeezed into a narrow street for the Kurdish wedding when the blast occurred.

"We had just walked past the wedding and offered our good wishes when we heard the blast. Suddenly people started running past us. When we went back to see what had happened, everyone was on the floor, and there were body parts scattered everywhere and blood splattered on the walls," Ibrahim Ates told the New York Times after the incident.

Meanwhile, the bride and the groom are reportedly are in stable condition. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek characterized the incident "a massacre of unprecedented cruelty and barbarism" when he visited the site of the attack on Sunday. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry echoed his sentiments:

No public claim of responsibility has been made yet.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement implicating the Islamic State in the attack and told state-run news agency Andadolu Sunday that the blast was caused by a suicide bomber between the ages of 12 and 14 years old.

If it's true that ISIS is responsible for the attack, the young age of the suicide bomber is sadly not as striking as it seems. According to a new study, the Islamic State is using children to fight at an "unprecedented rate." The report found that 60 percent of the children whom ISIS had sent to their death in battle were between 12 and 16 years of age.

Researchers also discovered that the rate of children dying on behalf of ISIS was nearly twice as high as previously thought for 2015 and is only climbing. Why? They believe that it may be "more tactically attractive" to ISIS to use children as military pressure against the group increases.

"From January 31 [of 2016] until now, we’ve already had 19 more,” said study author Mia Bloom of the number of child fighters dying for ISIS. "So it’s exponentially increasing."

There may also be a reason that the explosion targeted a Kurdish neighborhood.

Although we don't know who is responsible for the latest attack in the country, Turkey-based journalist Andrew Finkel notes that the Kurdish militia has been a key player in recent victories against ISIS in northern Syria. Gaziantep, where the blast occurred, is only about 60 miles north of Aleppo, a Syrian city that has been in the news repeatedly as war ravages the country. The town is also only about an hour away from the Syrian border.

"This may very well be a revenge attack for that," says Finkel to CNN, referring to the recent victory in Manbij, Syria, this month which cut off an important supply route for ISIS.

He also added that the incident may have been intended to increase ethnic tensions in Gazientep, since the city currently houses many Syrian refugees.

The bombing comes just two months after attacks rocked Istanbul's main airport, in which militants suspected of being affiliated with ISIS were also involved.

Editor's note: The piece originally misspelled Mia Bloom's name. We regret the error.