Turkish border town fears more suicide bombings

Friday 17/07/2015
‘Anything could happen at any time’

SURUC (Sanliurfa Province) - "It's not the first time that they attack us, and its not going to be the last," laments Zeynep, a municipal official, at the scene of the suicide bombing in the Turkish border town of Suruc that killed 32 activists.

The town just north of the border with Syria is trying to return to normal but the evidence of Monday's suicide bombing, which has been blamed on the Islamic State (IS) group, is difficult to ignore.

Still pinned to trees -- in memory of the victims -- are the flags of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations to which the activists, who were preparing for an aid mission to Syria, belonged.

The windows of the cultural centre where the attack took place are blown out, empty chairs are scattered all about, and traces of blood testify to the horror of Monday's devastating blast.

But the most poignant reminder of the initiative that brought them from across Turkey to the area is the toys that they planned to deliver to children in the conflict-scarred town of Kobane, just across the border.

Zeynep, who did not give her last name, was adamant that Suruc residents "should not give into fear" after the attack and said she was working to get the centre back on its feet.

"We need to get back to normal activity and help people to show that we will never be beaten," she said.

She said that when Kurdish forces routed IS fighters from Kobane earlier this year "we thought things would get back to order".

"But the risk has now returned to the maximum level," she said.

The mainly Kurdish town of Suruc was catapulted into the global spotlight when it became the focal point for both refugees and foreign media during the battle for Kobane.

Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds fled the fighting across the border and the town is now home to the country's biggest refugee camp, which can accommodate 35,000 refugees.

The security presence is nonetheless discreet in the town, with the army deployed along the border to prevent any incursions by jihadists.

"The attack was not a surprise, we have to wait and see when the next one takes place," said Kevser, a young woman aged 20.

Ali, 21, who works in a repair shop opposite the cultural centre, said people had to carry on with their lives, despite living in fear of a repeat attack.

"You need to work. There is no need to give into fear. But here it's a war zone. Anything could happen at any time."