What started out as a beautiful ceremony turned into a devastating massacre as an Islamic State suicide bomber attacked a Turkish wedding Saturday evening. At least 51 are confirmed dead, and many more injured. The bride and groom were among the injured, but are both alive as of right now.
In a surprising twist of events, it was recently discovered that the attacker was no more than twelve years old, one of many younger recruits by the Syrian-based group known as ISIS. Many of the victims were children as well, totaling at least 22 so far.
The Turkish President issued a statement in regard to the attack, blaming ISIS. He claims that the attack came in response to the Islamic State’s growing interest in the Gaziantep region.
“Those who cannot overcome Turkey and try to provoke people by abusing ethnic and sectarian sensitiveness will not prevail,” declared [President] Erdogan, taking the opportunity to reiterate his stance that ISIS, the Kurdish separatists of the PKK, and the followers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen — whom Erdogan blames for last month’s failed effort to depose him — are equal threats to his nation’s security.
The ceremony was being conducted in a large public forum during a “henna ceremony.” The Henna Ceremony was largely attended by women and children, which also accounts for the large number of younger victims.
Though it has been confirmed by the Turkish government that the bomber was a child between the ages of 12-14 years, the government has since retracted their statement on the matter as of Monday.
It is not known if the child was a willing participant in the attack. Several theories are under development, such as the manipulation or threatening of the child by ISIS members to go forth with the attack.
“A senior security official told Reuters the suicide vest was similar to those used by the Islamic State in two previous attacks, in July and October of 2015 — the latter being the infamous bombing of a pro-Kurdish rally in Ankara. Another security official said the Turks are investigating “the possibility militants could have placed the explosives on the child without his or her knowledge and detonated them remotely, or that a mentally disabled child was duped into carrying the device, a tactic seen elsewhere in the region.”
Alarmingly, just 24 hours after the vicious wedding attack was carried out, a child was intercepted by officials in Kirkuk, Iraq with a bomb vest strapped to his chest. The child claims to have been kidnapped by ISIS members and forced to wear the explosive vest.
Over the past year, the Islamic State has grown not only in size, but in indecency. Now the group has stooped to forcing children to commit mass murder and die for a cause they may not even fully understand.
There have been many responses to these attacks, and a call to arms from many world powers. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu calls for a “cleansing” of the Islamic State.
In the wake of the wedding attack, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu declared that the Islamic State should be “completely cleansed from our borders, and we are ready to do what it takes for that.” However, Turkey also wishes to prevent the Kurds from growing too strong along their border.
Turkey itself has taken action in response to the attack. They recently gave ten tanks to the Free Syrian Army, a rebellious group that fights against ISIS. Turkish military officials also are sponsoring a Syrian rebel group whose goal is to protect certain key towns from being taken into ISIS’ control (including Jarablus).
What are your thoughts? Is enough action being taken against ISIS at this point in time, or should those who have the power to intervene do more? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.