Turkish police detain Kurdish officials after deadly blasts
Turkish police detained nearly 200 officials of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, on Monday over alleged links to Kurdish militants after deadly twin weekend blasts claimed by a radical Kurdish group.
The raids saw 198 HDP officials rounded up on suspicion of belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, or producing propaganda for the group, state news agency Anadolu said.
Part of an anti-terror probe, the sweeping arrest operation came after weekend attacks killed 44 people in Istanbul, including 36 police and eight civilians, which were claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Fal- cons, or TAK, seen as a radical offshoot of the PKK.
The PKK and the government have been locked in a decades-long conflict that has killed tens of thousands. Violence resumed between them after the collapse of peace talks in 2015.
Turkey declared a national day of mourning, launched a full investigation and paid tribute to the dead on Sunday after two bombings in Istanbul also wounded more than 155 others near a soccer stadium.
400 kg of explosives
Experts have determined that up to 400 kilograms of explosives were used in the car bomb.
The twin car-and-suicide bombings on Saturday night near the Besiktas stadium enraged top officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who vowed to hunt down the perpetrators. The attack was the latest large- scale assault to traumatize a nation confronting an array of security threats.
In a ceremony for five of the victims at the city’s police headquarters, Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim met with the families, looking on silently as the flag-draped coffins were brought in.
“Sooner or later we will have our revenge,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told the mourners. “The arm of the law is long”.
Erdogan vowed his country would fight “the curse of terrorism till the end” after paying a visit to some of the wounded at Haseki Hospital in Istanbul.
Surrounded by a crowd chanting his name and “God is great!”, Erdogan vowed that the perpetrators would be found and forced to “pay an even heavier price”.
Hundreds of flag-carrying demonstrators marched on Sunday along Istanbul’s coastline toward the stadium at the heart of the blast area. Flags flew at half-staff across the country and at Turkey’s foreign missions. Passers-by placed flowers on barriers surrounding the soccer stadium.
On the streets, people gathered outside the stadium to lay flowers, many holding Turkish flags and shouting “Down with the PKK!” and “Our homeland is indivisible!”
“They won’t be able to divide Turkey, they won’t be able to break it into pieces,” said a man who gave his name only as Muammed. But there was also anger. “God curse the PKK!” said one woman in her 50s.
Family members and colleagues on Sunday attend a memorial for police officers killed outside the Besiktas soccer club stadium Vodafone Arena on Saturday in Istanbul. Turkey declared a national day of mourning after twin blasts killed dozens of people.