At least 20 people were wounded when in an explosion outside a police building in Turkey’s southeastern city of Diyarbakir. The explosion came hours after authorities detained the leaders of pro-Kurdish opposition.
A large explosion hit the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeastern region on Friday, multiple news outlets reported. Television footage showed people walking amid broken glass and other debris from a building used by police; windows were blown out from the apparent explosion that witnesses said could be heard several kilometers away.
Diyarbakir’s governor’s office blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and said it was a car bomb placed near a police building. The attack comes just hours after police rounded up more than a dozen lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on charges of aiding the outlawed PKK, which has fought a decades-long insurgency for political and cultural rights for Turkey’s ethnic Kurds.
‘Spreading PKK propaganda’
Police detained HDP co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag in separate early morning raids that targeted the lawmakers’ residences while they slept.
Turkey’s private NTV television said the pair was accused of spreading PKK propaganda. The state-run Anadolu Agency said Demirtas was accused of provoking violence in deadly protests in October 2014.
The lawmakers’ detention appeared part of a large-scale operation against the HDP, which is the third largest party in the Turkish parliament with 59 seats and the main political representative of the Kurdish minority.
Hundreds of charges were filed against HDP lawmakers following parliament’s lifting of prosecutorial immunity, including “disseminating terrorist propaganda” to “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” Turkey used extraordinary powers passed in the wake of the failed July coup to remove the elected mayor of Diyarbakir from office with a ruling party loyalist installed in her place.
Tensions have surged in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast since a fragile ceasefire declared by the PKK collapsed in 2015 with deadly clashes between PKK militants and security forces an almost daily occurrence.
In the wake down of the political crackdown, access to social media sites Twitter and Whatapp was blocked in Turkey on Friday, an internet monitoring group said.
Access was being blocked by throttling, an expert from the monitoring group Turkey Blocks said, a method of slowing certain websites to the point where they are unusable.