Police have detained 235 people including pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) officials over alleged ties to Kurdish militants. One day prior, a PKK splinter group claimed responsibility for bombings in Istanbul.
Scores of people suspected of acting on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were detained in nationwide raids, Turkey's Interior Ministry said on Monday.
Some 235 people were taken into custody, the interior ministry said in a statement, saying they were suspected of either membership in outlawed groups like the PKK, or of "spreading terror group propaganda."
Counter-terrorism police conducted early-morning raids in 11 Turkish provinces on Monday, detaining officials in cities like Istanbul and Ankara, the ministry said. The raids appeared to also target officials from the pro-Kurdish HDP political party.
In Istanbul, police took 20 officials into custody, including the HDP's provincial head in the city, Aysel Güzel, Turkish authorities said. The party's main offices in the city were also reportedly searched.
Another 17 people involved in the party were detained in Ankara, including the provincial head Ibrahim Binici, Hurrieyet reported. To the south in Adana, a further 25 were taken into custody as part of a large police raid.
The sweeping police raids came after weekend attacks in Istanbul killed 44 people and injured 155, according to the latest figures from the health ministry in Ankara. Most of those killed were police officers.
Following the claim, Turkish warplanes carried out air strikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq, an army statement said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a published statement that those behind the attack would "pay a heavier price" for Saturday evening's attack.
Turkey has cracked down hard on the HDP both before and especially since a July 15 coup attempt, arresting several national leaders and local officials although the pro-Kurdish party had no obvious connection to the coup plot. The party's members insist they have no ties to the PKK.
Last month, HDP co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were arrested along with eight others and are being held in pre-trial detention.
The PKK is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States.
rs/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)