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Deadly blasts shake Kurdish party rally ahead of Turkey poll

Two explosions have rocked an opposition Kurdish party rally in southeastern Turkey, killing two people and injuring dozens more. The blasts come ahead of what is expected to be a tightly-contested general election.

Television footage Friday showed victims being carried off in stretchers after the two successive blasts ripped through a parade ground in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

At least two people were killed and more than 100 wounded, according to Turkish Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker.

The explosions came about five minutes apart just as Selahattin Demirtas, the head of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), was preparing to take the stage to address a crowd of several thousand.

Tensions have been running high in Turkey in the lead-up to Sunday's parliamentary elections. The HDP is seeking to become the first party with Kurdish origins to win seats in parliament. If it succeeds in

overcoming the 10 percent vote

threshold to scoop seats, it could deprive the ruling AK Party of a majority.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said authorities would investigate the cause of Friday's explosions.

"It is not yet clear whether this was an attack or an accident. Whatever caused it, we will find out," he said.

Call for common sense

Selahattin Demirtas

Demirtas hopes his party can clear the 10 percent hurdle

The HDP rally was cancelled following the blasts, although police with tear gas and water cannon were called in to break up a group of protesters that had remained behind. Speaking later in an interview with CNN Turk, HDP Chairman Demirtas called on his supporters to remain calm.

"Whatever the cause, I invite the people to retain their common sense...We don't know the cause of the blast," he said, adding that it was "thought-provoking that this occurred so close to the election."

Demirtas has said his party has been targeted in dozens of violent attacks during the campaign. Several people were injured when clashes between HDP supporters and nationalists broke out in Erzurum on Thursday. Earlier this week, assailants fired on a HDP campaign vehicle, killing its driver. And last month, bombs at two local HDP offices

injured six people

in southern Adana and in neighboring Mersin.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who used to head the AK Party, has accused the HDP of being a front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which took up arms in 1984 in a bloody insurgency that has left 40,000 people dead.

nm/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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