Ankara: It was a horrifying night when a bomber in Gaziantep targeted a wedding party and killed 54 on Saturday — one of the deadliest attacks in a string of blasts across Turkey this year. The CNN on Monday revealed that 22 of the 54 victims were children. The bomb had been timed to detonate during a part of the festivities when women and children painted themselves with henna, authorities told the CNN. According to the BBC, 29 victims were under the age of 18 while 22 were under the age of 14.
Emine Ayhan lost four of her five children while her husband was seriously injured. “If my remaining child was not alive, I would commit suicide,” she told Turkish television. Another victim was a nine-year-old girl who had stayed on at the party to see the bride after her parents had left, according to the Vatan newspaper.
The suicide bomber himself was a child aged 12-14, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. The BBC said Turkish officials were on Monday awaiting the DNA test results as they tried to identify the suicide attacker. The type of bomb, which contained scraps of metal, was similar to those used in previous attacks on pro-Kurdish gatherings, the Hurriyet newspaper said.
Meanwhile, Turkey said the Syrian border region must be “completely cleansed” from the ISIS. In a sign of a key battle to come, Syrian rebel fighters have amassed on the Turkish side of the border in preparation for an offensive on the town of Jarablus, ISIS’ last major transit point on the Syrian side of the border. “Our border must be completely cleansed from Daesh,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in televised remarks. He said Turkey has already taken an “active” role in the fight against ISIS, allowing coalition forces to use a key air base.
Child bomber not the first
ISIS has a history of using children as weapons, sending them strapped with explosives and putting them on front lines in Iraq and Syria. But the practice has also been used by other groups:
Islamic state group:
The group has deployed child suicide bombers to stage attacks in both Iraq and Syria. Among the most deadly attacks was a bombing at a youth soccer game at a stadium south of Baghdad on March 25, 2016.
Boko Haram: In a report this year, Unicef said one in five suicide attacks claimed by Boko Haram across Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad are now carried out by children. In Nigeria, Human Rights Watch said that since 2009, it has recruited possibly thousands of youngsters and used dozens as suicide bombers.
Radical Palestinian groups: These groups run camps that seek to indoctrinate Palestinian children with anti-Israel ideologies. They have not sent children on suicide missions, though during the Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s, several youngsters carried out bombings....