Monday 5 December 2016

Large explosion hits police station in Turkey hours after arrest of MPs as part of terror-related investigations

Cinar Kiper

Published 04/11/2016 | 06:37

Smoke rises from an explosion in a central district of Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, in this still image taken from video November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Reuters TV
Smoke rises from an explosion in a central district of Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, in this still image taken from video November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Reuters TV
Smoke rises from an explosion in a central district of Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, in this still image taken from video November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Reuters TV

A large explosion has hit Turkey's biggest city in its mainly Kurdish south-east region, wounding at least six people, hours after authorities detained 11 MPs in connection with terror-related investigations.

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The blast occurred in Diyarbakir's Baglar district, near an annex to the city's police headquarters, the state-run Anadolu Agency said. Several ambulances were sent to the scene.

The cause of the explosion was not known but Hurriyet newspaper said it may have been caused by a car bomb.

The blast came after People's Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairmen Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag and other senior members of the pro-Kurdish party were held in overnight raids.

The aftermath of an explosion in the south-eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir (AP)
The aftermath of an explosion in the south-eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir (AP)

Mr Demirtas wrote on Twitter: "Police officials are at the door to my house in Diyarbakir with a detention warrant."

Anadolu said Ms Yuksekdag was detained in her home in Ankara.

The Interior Ministry said the detention orders were issued by the chief public prosecutors of Diyarbakir, Sirnak, Hakkari, Van and Bingol provinces.

Anadolu said the politicians were detained for not appearing in court to give evidence in the continuing investigations.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior government officials have repeatedly called for the prosecution of pro-Kurdish MPs on terrorism-related charges, which was made possible after legal immunities protecting legislators from prosecution were lifted in May.

Hundreds of charges were filed against HDP members following the lifting of immunity, including "disseminating terrorist propaganda" to "membership in an armed terrorist organisation".

Mr Demirtas reportedly reacted to the lifting of immunity by saying none of his fellow party members would voluntarily appear in court to give evidence. "If they want our testimony they'll have to force us there," he said, according to Anadolu.

Earlier this week Gultan Kisanak, the HDP mayor of the largest predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, along with co-mayor Firat Anli, was arrested over alleged membership in the PKK. The government appointed a local Ankara district administrator to take over Mr Kisanak's duties.

In September, the government similarly ousted 28 mayors and other administrators, mostly from the HDP and appointed trustees in their place.

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