Turkish Governor Dies After Southeast Bomb Attack, 30 Detained

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) —

A Turkish district governor wounded in a bomb attack on his office in the largely Kurdish southeast has died in hospital, and police detained 30 people as part of the investigation, security sources said on Friday.

Suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorists carried out Thursday’s attack in the Derik district of Mardin province with an improvised explosive device, wounding three people, according to the Mardin governor’s office.

Derik district governor Muhammed Fatih Safiturk was one of three people hurt in the attack, suffering second-degree burns. He died at a hospital in the city of Gaziantep on Friday, having been flown there by helicopter, the Dogan news agency said.

Around 30 people, including staff from the governor’s office, have been detained in connection with the attack, security sources said.

Police were looking into the possibility that the explosives were hidden in a bag placed in the governor’s office and detonated remotely or were sent in a package to the office and exploded on being opened, Dogan said.

Safiturk had been given the additional responsibility in July of running the local municipality as part of moves to replace elected officials from the Democratic Regions’ Party (DBP), a sister party of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Ankara accuses the HDP, parliament’s third-biggest party, of ties to the PKK, which is fighting for autonomy in the southeast. The HDP denies any direct links and says it is working for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

There was no claim of responsibility for Thursday’s attack but the PKK often carries out bomb and rocket attacks in the southeast, where violence has raged since a two-year-old PKK ceasefire collapsed in July last year. Fourteen PKK terrorists were found dead after a Turkish air-backed military operation against them in the eastern province of Tunceli, state-run Anadolu agency reported on Friday.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the PKK took up arms in 1984. It is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

On Nov. 4, the leaders of the HDP were jailed pending trial over alleged ties to the PKK, drawing strong international condemnation of a widening crackdown on dissent under President Tayyip Erdogan.

More than 36,000 people have been jailed pending trial and around 110,000 suspended or dismissed from their jobs since an attempted coup on July 15 which Ankara blames on U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his supporters.

Pro-Kurdish politicians have also been targeted in the crackdown, with 6,000 HDP members detained since the putsch, HDP spokesman Ayhan Bilgen told a news conference on Thursday. Some 2,000 of them have been remanded in custody, he said.

Six advisers of leading HDP officials were among the latest detainees on Friday, security sources said.

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