ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities detained 19 people including two Kurdish deputy mayors in the northeastern province of Kars as part of a terrorism related operation, state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Thursday.
The detainees included local party heads from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and municipality council members in the province, Anadolu said.
The authorities detained suspects as they were determined to have aided Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members, attended meetings and operated under their orders, Anadolu said.
Last week, the HDP mayor of Kars along with dozens others were detained over violent protests in 2014 against an attack on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani.
President Tayyip Erdogan’s government accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK militant group, leading to prosecutions of thousands of its members and some leaders. The HDP denies such links.
Since March 2019 local elections, mayors have been replaced by trustees in more than half of the roughly 65 municipalities won by the HDP. Ankara has appointed governors and other local authorities as trustees in those districts.
The former co-leaders of the HDP have both been jailed since 2016 on terrorism charges, with several other prominent party members accused of supporting terrorism over what the government says are links to the PKK.