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Islamic State responsible for Gaziantep bomb attack: Turkish security source

Gaziantep, on the border with Syria, has been known as a home for a number of IS sleeper cells
Turkish soldiers gesture as they attend the burial ceremony of Turkish soldier Mehmet Yalcin Nane on July 24, 2015, in Gaziantep (AFP)

Islamic State was responsible for the car bomb attack on police headquarters in the Turkish-Syrian border town Gaziantep that left two officers dead and 24 wounded on Sunday, a security source told Middle East Eye.

Ismail Gones, an IS member of Turkish nationality, is understood to have detonated the car bomb outside the city's police headquarters this morning.

Television pictures showed chaotic scenes outside the imposing police headquarters in Gaziantep as ambulances rushed to help wounded lying on the ground.

"The shock of the bombing around 50 meters from my office made my legs tremble", Saeed, a business man from Gazaintep, told MEE. " I can't even imagine how people in Aleppo  handle this kind of attack every day."

A commercial vehicle and TNT were used in the attack, which caused injuries to police men in the neighbouring gardens and caused glass to shatter from the windows of buildings.

A second IS suspect, known only as Hasan O, was arrested on suspicion of trying to blow up a second car bomb.

The home of Ismail's father was raided this morning soon after the attack. MEE understands that police received information about the attack seven minutes before it occured, but were unable to intercept it.

Two police officers, whom sources identified as Serdar Shaker and Yusuf Iren, were killed in the attack, while policemen were also among the 24 people injured, six of them critically.

Gaziantep MP Acif Ekici claimed that the police officers killed in the attack prevented any more from being killed and limited the scale of the disaster by opening fire on the attackers.

Protests planned to highlight the violence taking place in the Syrian city of Aleppo, just 100km away over the border, were cancelled in the aftermath of the violence.

"We had already started to hate Sundays, because they have become known for assassinations and bombings", Yasmin, one of the protest organisers, told MEE. "For the same reason, our protest due to take place in Gaziantep to support the crisis in Aleppo was cancelled on supposed security grounds."

IS is known to have sleeper cells in Gaziantep, which has a population of around 1.6 million, including around 325,000 Syrians, according to the latest Turkish government figures.

The attack comes with Turkey on edge after two deadly attacks in Istanbul this year blamed on IS and a pair of attacks in Ankara that were claimed by Kurdish militants and killed dozens.

Fatma Sahin, the mayor of Gaziantep, tweeted: "Our city of Gaziantep will remain strong and will overcome these difficult times."

Gaziantep Chamber of Industry Chairman, Adil Sani Konukoglu, also condemned the attack , stating that police officers and citizens were deeply saddened by the police officers killed and the injured.

"Terrorism knows no humanity, and has a ugly, brutal and treacherous face - it has shown that once again," he said.

Gaziantep has been making strides to build itself as a hub of industry in recent years, with a modern university, restoration of heritage buildings in the old city centre, and investment in public spaces. But it has struggled against IS sleeper cells - police have previously carried out raids in which IS suspects have blown themselves up in the city.


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