President Erdoğan visits Gaziantep after ISIL suicide attack on wedding
AA photoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the southeastern province of Gaziantep on Aug. 28, one week after a deadly suicide attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targeted a street wedding.
Erdoğan first visited the Gaziantep Governor’s Office in the afternoon and was briefed on the suicide attack that left 55 people dead, most of whom were children, and dozens wounded.
He was also briefed on the recent military operation with the U.S.-led coalition forces in Syria’s Jarablus, called “Euphrates Shield” (Fırat Kalkanı).
Erdoğan later headed to the Gaziantep Municipality for a meeting that went on for around 45 minutes.
During his visits he was accompanied by the Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek, Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, Interior Minister Efkan Ala Special Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakallı, Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin, as well as deputies and officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The president is expected to pay a visit to the relatives of the victims and examine the street in the Şahinbey district where the suicide attack was carried out, including visiting the bride and groom who were both wounded in the attack targeting their wedding.
Erdoğan also held a public rally titled “Unity, Solidarity and Brotherhood” in Gaziantep’s July 15 Democracy Square, which was recently renamed after the failed coup attempt.
Erdoğan said the government had "had enough" of recent mortar attacks targeting the Karkamış district of the border province of Kilis, which ultimately provoked the launch of the Euphrates Shield operation.
He also vowed to give "all necessary support" to those Syrians who live in Gaziantep and want to return to Jarablus.
Commenting again on the issue of reinstating capital punishment, hotly debated since the recent failed coup attempt, Erdoğan reiterated that he would approve its reintroduction if parliament voted for it.
The president’s visit to Gaziantep witnessed tight security measures across the province with security support from both land and air. Many roads were also closed to traffic as a part of his program.
President Erdoğan is not the first political figure to visit Gaziantep after the suicide attack. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also paid a visit to the province on Aug. 23 to express his condolences to the relatives of the victims. During the trip Kılıçdaroğlu pointed to serious intelligence failures regarding the attack.
During the inauguration ceremony of the third bridge over Istanbul’s Bosphorus on Aug. 26, Erdoğan announced his decision to visit the province to “heal the wounds of public affected by the attack.”
A total of 55 people were killed and 93 others were wounded late on Aug. 20 when an ISIL child suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14 blew himself up during a street wedding, mostly attended by people from the eastern provinces of Siirt and Van.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala said in an interview on Aug. 24 that the type of the bomb used in the attack was a “fabricated explosive,” RDX, pointing to a professional plot.
On Aug. 24, the Turkish military had launched an operation in cooperation with the U.S.-led coalition forces in the Jarablus region of Syria to sweep the jihadist group and other terrorist elements from its borders following the Gaziantep suicide attack along with a series of mortar attacks targeting the Karkamış district of the border province of Kilis.