The Interior Ministry said police captured eight gunmen along with their weapons after an intense security operation in the region near the city of Mardin. The dead included six children, 16 women and 22 men.
Observing Muslim practice, many of the men had gathered for evening prayers when the attackers opened fire in the village of Bilge, 15 miles from Mardin, a witness told the private NTV television network.
A report from the Haberturk news agency quoted witnesses as saying the attackers herded party-goers into one room and opened fire.
Preliminary investigations pointed to a possible feud between two families in the village, Interior Minister Besir Atalay said before heading for Mardin with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin.
But Mr. Atalay declined to call the attack a blood feud — a phenomenon in Turkey’s southeast region which usually involves exacting vengeance for the murder of a relative by the tit-for-tat killing of a male member of the murderer’s family. Such feuds have cost many lives in the past.
Over the years, successive Turkish governments have taken legal measures, including stiffer prison terms, for such crimes. The authorities have also sent officials to mediate conflicts in efforts to curb the practice.
The dead included Sevgi Celebi, the bride-to-be, and Habib Ari, her fiancé, along with Mr. Ari’s four-year-old sister, Ruken.
Sadik Akbulut, the teacher at the village school, and his wife Bedia Akbulut survived the attack after Mr. Akbulut overslept and missed the party.
“When we heard gunshots,” Mrs. Akbulut told the Anatolian Agency, “my husband immediately switched off the lights.” .
“People at the village are in deep fear, we cannot believe what we’ve been through,” She said.
Television pictures showed four construction machines digging graves in an open area to prepare for the funerals.