The HDP said on Saturday that Friday’s bomb attack in Diyarbakir had targeted their MPs who were kept in custody in the police station, whilst Ankara blames the PKK for the attack which was claimed by Isis.
Isis claimed responsibility for a deadly car bomb attack in the mainly Kurdish town of Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey, according to a statement by its Amaq news agency on Friday.
The blast came less than two days after the release of an audio message where Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi urges Isis fighters to attack both Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
At least eleven people died in the bombing near a police station in the town on Friday morning, with around 100 people reportedly wounded.
The attack, the first one in Turkey that the group has laid claim to, took place a day after a crackdown on pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) leaders and MPs in the country.
On Thursday 9 HDP officials were arrested over charges of having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has been waging an armed fight against Ankara for greater Kurdish rights and autonomy since the 1980s.
Turkish officials have blamed the PKK for the attack which took place in the Baglar district. The Diyarbakir governorship said in a statement on Saturday that obtained radio talks indicate that the attack was carried out by a PKK member code-named “Kemal”.
The statement added that three tons of explosives were used in the car bomb attack whilst dismissing international media reports of Isis claiming responsibility for the attack. Pro-state Turkish media reported that the PKK had claimed responsibility for the attack, although no statement as such has been released by the PKK.
On the other hand, The HDP said in a press release on Saturday that the attack aimed to target their officials who were kept under custody in the same police station shortly before the attack on Friday. It added that Recai Altay, the Cungus district co-chair of the sister Democratic Regions Party (DBP), was killed in the attack whilst kept under detention in the police station amongst other DBP, HDP officials since 26 days. The HDP urged for an investigation on the incident.
HDP Diyarbakir MP Ziya Pir, who was amongst the MPs released under judicial control on Friday, claimed that Isis aimed to carry out the attack against HDP officals who were kept in the police station just before the attack. Pir tweeted, “Figen Yuksekdag and Sirri Sureyya Onder was saved in a close call. Selahattin Demirtas, Nursel Aydogan, Gulsel Yildirim and I came out a little while before the attack”.
Isis has been suspected of carrying out bombings targeting the pro-Kurdish HDP party in a series of attacks in 2015. On May 18, 2015, simultaneous bombings took place in the Adana and Mersin offices of the HDP. The attack was followed by the bombing in the HDP Diyarbakir rally, two days before the general elections. The deadliest of the attacks were carried out in a joint HDP-CHP (Peoples’ Republician Party) peace rally in Ankara, with the bombs detonating specifically in the HDP section of the rally.
Turkish media was temporarily banned from covering the attack in Diyarbakir. In the immediate aftermath of the HDP arrests, access to Twitter, Facebook and social messaging app WhatsApp was restricted. VPN services have reportedly been barred from operating in Turkey.