Kemal Ataturk: I thought I got rid of all that?
MARDIN, Turkey (Al-AP) — Turkish security forces on Tuesday detained eight gunmen suspected of fatally shooting 44 people, many of whom were praying, at an engagement ceremony in the rural southeast of the country.
Masked assailants with automatic weapons attacked the celebration Monday night in the village of Bilge, near the city of Mardin, in what appeared to be the result of a family feud, Interior Minister Besir Atalay said. Blood feuds occasionally happen among families in the region, where tribal ties and rivalries can eclipse the power of the state.
On Tuesday morning, four large earth-movers were seen digging graves for the victims in the village. Police allowed friends and relatives to enter Bilge, but journalists were kept out. Authorities also cut telephone communication with the village.
The dead included the engaged couple, and six other people were wounded. Two girls survived after the bodies of slain friends fell on top of them. Reports said the gunmen opened fire as men and women prayed in separate rooms in line with tradition in parts of Turkey.
Turkish media initially described the gathering as “dugun,” a term for a wedding celebration. However, Atalay and media outlets later used the term “nisan,” which refers to an engagement ceremony.
Atalay said eight suspects were in custody, and that some of their family names were the same as those of the victims.
“They were caught with their weapons,” he said. “The first indications are that it was the result of disputes, of animosity among relatives, within a family in the village.”