Turkey holds nine over ‘revenge attacks’ on pro-Kurdish party

The raids sparked fears of further tensions in Turkey and even street fighting as the country is repeatedly hit by attacks blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its affiliates.

By: AFP | Istanbul | Published:December 18, 2016 7:58 pm
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Turkish authorities on Sunday detained nine people suspected of involvement in a night of violence against offices of the main pro-Kurdish party in apparent reprisal for a deadly attack blamed on Kurdish militants. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said 20 of its offices across the country had been attacked after Saturday’s suicide car bombing in the central city of Kayseri that left 14 soldiers dead. It said several offices, including in Istanbul, were destroyed after being set on fire and ransacked by nationalist protesters while others were fired upon. The raids sparked fears of further tensions in Turkey and even street fighting as the country is repeatedly hit by attacks blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliates.

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“An attempt is being made to create the conditions for conflict and a coup attempt in Turkey,” party spokesman Ayhan Bilgen said in a statement. He accused the authorities of turning a blind eye to the attacks but said the HDP had urged supporters to resist provocations.

All those detained are suspected of staging attacks on the party’s buildings in Istanbul, the Dogan news agency said. The government has said the outlawed PKK, which is fighting a bitter insurgency against Turkish security forces in the southeast, was likely behind the attack in Kayseri.

The HDP denies any links to the PKK but the government accuses the party of being the political front of the militants. Several HDP MPs including its co-leaders are currently under arrest over alleged links to the PKK. The HDP condemned the Kayseri attack “in the strongest possible terms”.

In Kayseri, protesters had yesterday broken into the building where the HDP office is located, scattering papers and furniture on the street and removing the HDP sign from the entrance. A group then ascended to the top of the building, setting off a fire and displaying a giant red flag with three crescent moons, the insignia of the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Turkish media said yesterday’s protesters in Kayseri were supporters of the Grey Wolves, a militant wing of the MHP which was hugely prominent in the street fighting of the 1980s and early 1990s.

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