An apparent suicide blast in a Turkish town near the Syrian border tore through a political meeting Monday, killing at least 30 people in an attack officials called a “terrorist” strike.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The site of the blast, Suruc, is near the Syrian border town of Kobane, where Syrian Kurdish defenders have faced attacks by Islamic State fighters since late last year.
A statement from Turkey’s Interior Ministry described the bloodshed as a “terrorist attack.” Turkish authorities said at least 30 people were killed and more than 100 were injured, news agencies reported.
Turkish reports said the blast tore through a cultural center hosting a pro-Kurdish political group discussing efforts to rebuild Kobane, which has been devastated by the fighting.
The group, the Federation of Socialist Youths, was planning to send as many as 300 people across the border to help rebuild the predominantly Kurdish town.
Officials said investigators believe the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, raising speculation of links to militant groups such as the Islamic State.
“We are certain it was a suicide bomber,” the provincial governor, Izzettin Kucuk, was quoted as saying by the Hurriyet newspaper.
During a visit to northern Cyprus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attack an act of “savagery.”
“I personally and on behalf of my nation condemn and curse those who perpetrated this savagery,” Erdogan said at a news conference, the Associated Press reported.
“The way the incident took place is clearly an incident of terrorism,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. “We not only curse it. We are face-to-face with a terrorism incident. We have the willpower to find and certainly punish those who are responsible.”
The attack was the deadliest in Turkey since May 2013, when more than 50 people were killed in twin car-bomb explosions in Reyhanli, another town near the Syrian border.
The battles for Kobane occurred within sight of Turkish forces massed on the border, but military leaders did not send ground troops over the border. U.S.-led airstrikes, meanwhile, helped drive back Islamic State militants from positions near Kobane.
The Islamic State also still holds significant stretches of territory in Syria and neighboring Iraq.
William Branigin contributed to this report.