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A minibus laden with explosives tore through a building in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir on Friday, killing at least eight people and wounding 100 more, according to officials.
The massive blast occurred in Diyarbakir’s Baglar district, near an annex of the city’s police headquarters. The bomb ripped the facades off buildings, with footage from the scene showing firefighters combing through rubble looking for survivors.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the dead included two police officials.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) first claimed the attack, according to the Diyarbakir governor’s office. The PKK is deemed a Kurdish terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and US. Hours later, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the car bomb on its Amaq news site.
The attack came hours after the Turkish government detained 12 parliamentarians and members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including the party’s charismatic leader, Selahattin Demirtas, after they refused to give testimony for crimes linked to “terrorist propaganda”. The police also raided the party’s headquarters in Ankara.
Demirtas is widely credited with boasting the party’s popularity with leftist voters, a strategy that earned his party a place in the Turkish parliament. But its leaders have nonetheless been politically targeted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK party, which lifted the pro-Kurdish party’s immunity earlier this year. Turkey accuses the HDP of having ties to the PKK, which the HDP vehemently denies.
Tensions high in Kurdish regions
Turkey has witnessed numerous attacks over the past two years by the Islamic State group based across the border in Syria as well as the PKK.
The collapse of a peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK has seen an escalation of violence in Kurdish areas.
The explosion on Friday could be heard several kilometres away and a thick column of white smoke was seen rising from the scene.