6 May 2009

Eight arrested after killings at village wedding

5:50 am on 6 May 2009

Eight people have been arrested after masked gunmen attacked a wedding party in south-eastern Turkey, killing 44 people.

The bride and groom were among those killed. Other victims included six children and 16 other women, three of them pregnant.

The motive for the attack is unclear, but interior minister Besir Atalay said it was a "blood feud between two families."

Assault rifles and grenades were used. Unconfirmed reports said the killers included members of a militia known as the Village Guards, who have helped government troops fight Kurdish separatist rebels.

The BBC reports the Village Guards were set up in 1984 and have long been accused of involvement in illegal activities.

The attack took place at a wedding celebration in the village of Bilge Koyu, about 20km from the city of Mardin. One report said there were about 200 guests at the wedding.

Relatives began burying the dead within hours. Mechanical diggers lined up rows of graves as ambulances brought more bodies after forensic examinations.