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Islamic State suicide blast in Turkey kills 30

People help the wounded after an explosion in the Turkish city of Suruc yesterday. Picture by Ozcan Soysal, Associated Press

AN explosion rocked a Turkish city near the Syrian border yesterday, killing 30 people and injuring nearly 100 others in what authorities said appeared to be an Islamic State-inspired suicide bombing.

The midday attack took place at a cultural centre in Suruc as a political group, the Federation of Socialist Youths, was finishing a news conference on plans to rebuild the Syrian city of Kobani, a witness said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but one senior Turkish government official said Turkey suspects IS was behind the blast.

Suruc is just across the border from Kobani, the scene of fierce battles between Kurdish groups and Islamic State.

The city, populated heavily by Syrian Kurds, was the location of IS's biggest defeat last year since the militants established control over large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Its ruins have become a symbol of Kurdish resistance.

Fatma Edemen (22) said the federation of about 200 youths had been pressing for more access to help reconstruction in Kobani before the blast that police told her came from a suicide bomber.

"One of my friends protected me. First I thought 'I am dying' but I was okay. I started to run after I saw the bodies," she said as she travelled to hospital to be treated for leg injuries.

She said her group had believed Kobani was relatively safe and ready to rebuild.

"Our friends went there and it didn't seem dangerous at that time. We couldn't even think something like that would happen," she said, adding that they had hoped to build a children's nursery in the devastated city.

Kobani was also the scene of surprise IS attacks last month that killed more than 200 people.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Cyprus on an official visit, was briefed on the investigation, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

"I personally and on behalf of my nation condemn and curse those who perpetrated this savagery," Mr Erdogan said.

In a statement on Twitter, Turkish deputy prime minister Yalcin Akdogan also called the bombing a terrorist act.

"Such despicable terrorist attacks on Turkey's integrity and peace will never reach their goal," he said.

Another explosion later went off south of Kobani. One Kurdish official initially described it as a bomb, but it was later claimed that it happened as Kurdish militiamen were removing mortar shells from a dump. He said the blast killed three Kurdish fighters.

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