At least 32 people have been killed after a massive "terrorist" explosion rocked the Turkish town of Suruc, near the southern border with Syria.
The blast occurred at the garden of Amara Culture Center of Suruç Municipality on Monday. Suruc lies opposite the Syrian flashpoint town of Kobani.
An unnamed official in the prime minister's office said nearly 100 people were also injured in the attack.
"It is a suicide attack," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
Witnesses reported that fire broke out after the strong explosion which smashed the windows of the building.
Television footage showed several people lying on the ground covered in blood and ambulances rushing to the scene.
The explosion targeted people from the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF) who had gathered at the culture center before their journey to Kobani to help in the restructuring of the war-ravaged town, according to reports.
"A terrorist attack took place in the town of Suruc in Sanliurfa [Province] today (Monday) around 12 pm local time (0900 GMT)," the Turkish Interior Ministry said in a statement.
"Twenty-seven citizens lost their lives according to initial findings," it said, warning that fatalities might increase.
"We are calling on all for common sense in the face of this terrorist attack targeting our country's unity," the ministry added.
The office of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has announced three ministers - Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, Interior Minister Sebahattin Ozturk and Labor Minister Faruk Celik - will be dispatched to the region.
Meanwhile, a Turkish government official said the attack was likely carried out by ISIL Takfiri militants. "The Turkish authorities have strong reason to believe that the terrorist attack was perpetrated by ISIS (ISIL)," the source told AFP.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a near simultaneous attack close to the Syrian town of Kobani, "strengthens our suspicions."
According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights the explosion in Kobani, which took place shortly after the blast in Turkey, claimed two lives.
"A suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at a checkpoint in Kobani's south... There were two Kurdish forces killed in the explosion," said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the UK-based group, which is affiliated to the foreign-backed Syria opposition groups.
Turkey along with some other regional countries has been widely accused of supporting the ISIL Takfiri militants in Syria as part of a broader Western plot for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In January, Kurdish forces backed by reinforcements pushed the ISIL out of Kobani after four months of fierce fighting. The militants made a surprise raid on the town in June, but were driven back by Kurdish forces, who took full control of the town.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Syrian Kurds of trying to establish a state in the crisis-hit country’s north, saying Ankara will leave no stone unturned to prevent such an establishment near its borders.
Erdogan vowed last month that Turkey “will never allow the establishment of a state in Syria’s north and our south. We will continue our fight in this regard no matter what it costs,” Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman reported.
The Turkish president also accused the Kurds of having undertaken “the operation to change the demographic structure of the region, stressing, “We will not turn a blind eye to this.”
Media has been abuzz of recent with reports that the Ankara government was gearing up for a ground incursion into Syria.
The reports have pointed out that the government had ordered the army to deploy forces to the border areas in a bid to prevent significant gains by Kurdish forces fighting against ISIL militants.
Turkish armed forces began amassing near the Turkish border city of Sanliurfa on June 29, AFP reported. The news agency said Turkish officials were also discussing a potential intervention.
Earlier in the month, Davutoglu said his country would not hesitate to launch a military intervention in Syria in case of what he referred to as a potential threat to Turkey’s “security.”
“If anything occurred that were to threaten Turkish security, we wouldn’t wait for tomorrow, we would go right in,” Today’s Zaman newspaper quoted Davutoglu as saying on July 3.