Anguish and anger as families bid farewell to Turkey bombing victims

Mourners cry over a coffin in Gaziantep during a funeral ceremony for victims following a suicide bomb attack the day before which killed at least 31 in the southern Turkish town of Suruc, on July 21, 2015.
Mourners cry over a coffin in Gaziantep during a funeral ceremony for victims following a suicide bomb attack the day before which killed at least 31 in the southern Turkish town of Suruc, on July 21, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

GAZIANTEP, Turkey (AFP) - Crying and shouting slogans against Islamists, relatives of the victims of the suicide bombing on Turkey's border with Syria clutched their coffins in a desperate farewell on Tuesday.

Twenty five coffins holding the large majority of the 32 killed in Monday's attack on the Turkish town of Suruc were laid out in the courtyard of a mosque in the south-eastern Turkish city of Gaziantep following an autopsy.

The coffins were wrapped in red shrouds with the name of each victim simply written in black block capitals on a white piece of A4 paper fastened to each coffin.

The coffins were laid out in a line and relatives of the young victims rested their heads on the tops of the coffins in a final embrace, wailing in grief.

One woman sobbed violently as she grasped the entire coffin of her son with her hands. Others simply buried their faces into the coffin's top.

The hundreds of mourners shouted slogans against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, who the government says most likely carried out the attack.

They also chanted slogans critical of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who opponents accuse of not doing enough to crack down against ISIS.

"Murderer ISIS!" they chanted. "The people will hold the perpetrators to account!" Following the autopsy and ceremony, the bodies were being delivered for burial in the hometowns of the victims who came from all across Turkey, including the city of Van in the east, Kayseri in central Turkey, Istanbul and Suruc itself.

The activists from the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) had arrived in Suruc to take part in a rebuilding mission for Kobane, which Kurdish forces had retaken from ISIS earlier this year.

According to the Hurriyet daily, one of the youngest victims, Okan Pirinc, 17, was a schoolboy from the southern city of Antakya.

Another victim was Hatice Ezgi Sadet, a student at Istanbul's prestigious fine arts university.

Many others were just in their teens and some in their early twenties or older. Victim Suleyman Aksu, 28, was an English teacher from the far southeast of Turkey, the DHA news agency reported.

Pictures of the group taking breakfast just before the attack or smiling in a selfie taken during a minibus ride were widely shared on social media.

The SGDF promoted a viral social media hashtag #iyiolmayacagim - "I will not be good" - in a warning of how its supporters would respond to the attack.

"We feel the pain of our murdered comrades... We will not let our rights be wronged by these crocodile tears," it said in a statement on its Facebook page referring to the expressions of sorrow from the government.

Meanwhile in Suruc where the attack took place, mourners hung up the toys that the activists planned to bring to Syria.

A doll and a pink elephant soft toy hung limply by a flag of the SGDF, an AFP photographer said.