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8 suspects charged in Turkish attack

A court on Wednesday charged eight suspects in the killing of 44 people in an attack on an engagement ceremony in Turkey's mostly Kurdish southeast, an official said.

world Updated: May 06, 2009 13:50 IST

A court on Wednesday charged eight suspects in the killing of 44 people in an attack on an engagement ceremony in Turkey's mostly Kurdish southeast, an official said. Two other suspects were still being questioned about their alleged involvement in what authorities described as the deadly outcome of a family feud, said Hasan Duruer, the governor of Mardin province. The state-run Anatolia news agency reported that the total number of suspects is 12.

In the attack late on Monday, masked gunmen stormed the ceremony in the village of Bilge, killing the betrothed couple, the Islamic cleric presiding over the ceremony and many guests. The dead included six children and three pregnant women.

Authorities have said some of the suspects are related to the victims.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack was the "result of a feud between two families."

Anatolia said the attackers had wanted the betrothed woman, Sevgi Celebi, to marry one among their own group of friends or relatives but that her family would not allow it.

It quoted villagers as saying there was a dispute between the attackers' family and the family of the would-be groom, and that Celebi's family had resisted pressure to cancel the marriage plans. Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, however, said the families also were engaged in a feud over some fishing farms near the village, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on its Web site late on Tuesday. The impoverished region, close to the border of Syria, is steeped in tradition, and clans have engaged in violence to defend what they view as family honor. The rural area has also endured years of fighting between Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels who seek autonomy.