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Turkey: further crackdown after Saturday's twin bombing

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
Turkey: further crackdown after Saturday's twin bombing

At least 235 people have been detained in raids across Turkey over alleged links to Kurdish militants.

The arrests come two days after 44 people died and 150 were injured in twin bombings at a major football stadium in Istanbul.

The interior ministry says the arrests were made across 11 provinces from northwest to southeast Turkey.

The allegations include “spreading terror group propaganda” over social media and acting on behalf of the PKK.

In addition, an army statement says Turkish warplanes have carried out air strikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq, destroying a PKK headquarters and surrounding gun position and shelters.

What happened on Saturday?

A car bomb was detonated late on Saturday evening outside the Vodaphone Arena, home to Istanbul’s Besiktas soccer team.

This was followed less than a minute later by a suicide bomb attack in an adjacent park.

Has anyone claimed responsibility?


An offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group claimed responsibility for the bombings.

The attack is one of the deadliest claimed by Kurdish militants for decades.

Did the bombs target anyone in particular?

Yes, according to investigators.

Most of those who died in the bomb blasts were riot police.

Paying his respects at the police headquarters on Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the dead officers’ colleagues not to hesitate in using their powers to fight terrorism.

“If you show mercy to a tyrant,” he said, “you are betraying the oppressed. Never show mercy to a tyrant.”

Funerals were held for the second day running on Monday.

A cabinet meeting was postponed to allow government ministers to attend.


Many of those detained are said to be members of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party or HDP.

It is the second-biggest group in the Turkish parliament.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the government accuse it of links to the PKK.

The HDP said it “harshly condemned” the Istanbul attacks and expressed condolences for the victims in a statement issued on Sunday.

The HDP’s leaders and several thousand of its members have been arrested pending trial over the past year.

Last year, it became the first Kurdish party to enter parliament. It denies direct links to the militants.

HDP arrests

At dawn, 500 police launched an operation in the southern city of Adana.

25 HDP officials were arrested, according to the state news agency, Anadolu.

Separately, in Istanbul, counter-terrorism police took 20 HDP officials into custody.

17 were held in Ankara.

Who are the PKK?

  • Took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984
  • Fighting for Kurdish autonomy
  • Considered a terrorist organisation by the US, EU and Turkey

What they are saying

“Our people expect us to defeat and eliminate this terrorist organisation, which has attacked our nation for 40 years,” – Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu vows the militant group will be “wiped from this geography. “We want everyone to know that they will not get anywhere by hiding behind political parties, behind politicians, behind those media outlets protecting them.”