Forty-four killed in attack on Turkish wedding

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The Independent Online

Unidentified gunmen armed with rifles and grendades attacked a wedding party in southeastern Turkey yesterday, killing at least 44 people, local officials said.

The acting governor of the province of Mardin, Ahmet Ferhat Ozen, told Reuters by telephone the assailants, wearing masks, stormed a building in the village of Sultankoy, some 12 miles from Mardin, and opened fire on wedding guests.

Television broadcasters said there had been a blood feud in the village in recent years. State-run news agency Anatolian reported the daughter of the village chief, called a muhtar, was being married when the attack occured.

Local media said the families of both the bride and the groom included members of the Village Guard, a heavily-armed state-backed militia set up to combat Kurdish separatist guerrillas in the area.

Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of the EU-candidate country, was briefed by his interior minister on the attack, the state-run Anatolian news agency said.