But officials said it might have been a suicide bomb, and some commentators said it could have been the work of Islamist State (IS) militants. Several Turkish media reported fatalities and private television station said 20 people had been killed and about 100 wounded.

Witnesses said 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 blast came as Turkey was stepping up its role in the fight against the Islamic State group. Last week, security forces arrested dozens of militants and sympathisers in the most significant action by Ankara against the jihadists who have seized swathes of neighbouring Iraq and Syria since 2014.

A Turkish government official confirmed to news agency that the explosion occurred in the garden of a culture centre in Suruc. But he declined to provide any casualty figures. The blast took place as a group from Turkish left-wing youth associations were preparing  to make a press statement Suruc to announce they would cross into Kobane.

The group was staying at the cultural centre. Suruc, once a centre of silk-making, is now home to one of the biggest refugee camps in Turkey housing Syrians who have fled the bloody four-year conflict at home.

The camp, which opened in January, shelters about 35,000 refugees who crossed the border after Islamic State jihadists seized Kobane last year. In January, Kurdish forces backed by rebel groups and US-led air strikes had pushed IS out of Kobane after four months of fierce fighting in a hugely symbolic defeat for the jihadists.

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