Turkish police detain pro-Kurdish opposition members in Istanbul raid

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 08, 2016 4:37 AM

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police detained senior local officials from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) on Friday in a raid on one of its Istanbul offices, party officials said, days after President Tayyip Erdogan said he backed legal action against its members.

Riot police and special forces took part in the operation, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency, which said the action was part of a crackdown on urban networks of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group's youth wing.

Erdogan and the government accuse the HDP, parliament's third-biggest party, of being an extension of the PKK, which has fought a three-decade insurgency for greater Kurdish autonomy in the southeast and which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The HDP says it is opposed to violence and wants a peaceful solution for Turkey's Kurds.

The detentions come less than 48 hours after Erdogan said some HDP lawmakers and local mayors were behaving like members of a terrorist organization and that their positions should not shield them from prosecution.

Party officials said no reason was given for the detentions.

The predominantly Kurdish southeast has sunk into its worst violence since the 1990s after a two-year ceasefire between the PKK and the state collapsed last July.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Gulsen Solaker; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Toby Chopra)