ISTANBUL — At least 30 people are dead in southern Turkey after a suicide bombing targeting a youth center, an attack the country’s prime minister says has the hallmarks of a attack by the Islamic State.

ISTANBUL — At least 30 people are dead in southern Turkey after a suicide bombing targeting a youth center, an attack the country’s prime minister says has the hallmarks of a attack by the Islamic State.


If confirmed as an attack by the extremist group — which controls large swaths of neighboring Syria and has been involved in extensive fighting with Syrian Kurdish groups along the Turkish border for months — it could very well represent the first time the group has launched a large-scale attack within Turkey.


Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office tweeted hours after the Monday attack that "initial findings … point to Daesh involvement and a suicide bomber."


Daesh is a common name for Islamic State in the region.


The attack came during an event at a cultural center for a pro-Kurdish youth group in the city of Suruc, which lies near the Syrian border.


Videos on social media showed the moment of the attack in Suruc. Youths were chanting slogans and holding banners when an explosion ripped through the crowd, leaving bodies on the ground. Some 100 people were injured. Many of the victims were teens or younger.


The attack was the worst in Turkey in more than two years. It took place across the border from Kobane in northern Syria, which was the scene of fierce battles this year between Kurdish fighters, backed by US-led airstrikes, and the Islamic State militant group.


A community meeting was being hosted in the garden of the cultural center and included members of a leftist youth group, known as the SGDF, which is sympathetic to the Kurdish fighters in Syria.


The meeting, which activists said was attended by about 300 people, was focused on rebuilding Kobane.


"We are certain it was a suicide bomber," Izzettin Kucuk, the governor of Sanliurfa province, said, according to Hurriyet newspaper.


Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) blamed the attack on Islamic State militants and called for the government to ensure the safety of all citizens.


The Interior Ministry denounced the "terrorist attack" and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was visiting northern Cyprus, condemned the perpetrators of what he called a "brutality."


Davutoglu dispatched three senior ministers to the scene. Local hospitals issued calls for blood donations.


The attack prompted spontaneous demonstrations protesting violence against Kurds throughout Turkey. Thousands gathered in Istanbul.


Although the protest was peaceful, there were random voices suggesting the government was in collusion with the attackers. Eventually, police forces put a stop to the demonstration with tear gas and water cannon.


Turkish police often shut down unofficial protests with force.


Nonetheless, the shock at the Suruc attack resonated around the world.


The European Union’s umbrella group of Socialist parties reacted to the attack, calling it "beyond belief."


"The fact that a group of socialist young people in Turkey have been massacred as they prepared to volunteer in Syria is so abominable that it is beyond belief," said Sergei Stanishev, the president of the Party of European Socialists.


Davutoglu called for solidarity during a press conference in response to the attacks, reported the Anadolu news agency.


"We are at a moment when everyone should stand shoulder to shoulder against this attack," he said. "We face a terror act in which we will have to bring the perpetrators to account as well condemning and cursing the attack.


"We are ready to take necessary measures against those who have responsibility and negligence for the attack, including mainly Daesh."


Across the border in the Syrian town of Kobane, two people were killed in a car bombing near a checkpoint of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units militia, Kurdish official Idriss Nassan said.


The Islamic State group has seized vast territories in Syria and Iraq over the past two years but has lost ground in recent months to Kurdish fighters, the main ally of the United States in pushing back the extremist group.


In 2013, the Turkish border town of Reyhanli was attacked in a twin car bombing, which killed at least 50 people in what was described as the most deadly assault in Turkey.


Two days before Turkey’s June 7 general elections, an HDP rally in the mostly Kurdish south-eastern city of Diyarbakir was attacked with two bombs, which left at least four people dead.


The NATO member has a border, porous in many areas, with its war-torn neighbor.


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