TERRORISM

Turkey bombing: 235 people detained in anti-terrorism raids

Officials say blasts were caused by a car bomb and suicide vest

 

 Turkey's police rounded up more than 200 members of a Kurdish political party on Monday as the country mourned the dozens killed in a bombing attack near an Istanbul soccer stadium, state media reported.

The state-run Anadolu Agency there were 235 arrests in 11 cities on terrorism-related charges and for spreading terrorist propaganda on social media.

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The report did not specify the name of the organization targeted or whether the individuals rounded up were suspected of involvement in a Saturday night attack outside a stadium in Istanbul that killed 44 people and wounded more 149 others, according to the latest tally.

Turkish state media earlier reported morning raids focused on individuals linked to the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, in cities including Istanbul and Ankara, the capital.

Health Minister Recep Akdag said Monday the fatalities included 36 police officers and eight civilians. Funeral ceremonies continued in Istanbul with top officials in attendance.

The attack following a Turkish Super League match caused deep shock in the soccer-loving nation and triggered patriotic demonstrations denouncing terrorism.

Taxi drivers drove round the recently inaugurated Besiktas stadium, named after the team and neighborhood, waving Turkish flags.

Scores of demonstrators marched near Istanbul's main police station to denounce the twin bombings in a rally organized by a union.

Demonstrator Gulay Firat said she wanted for widows and widowers and orphans to be avenged. "No one can tear this country apart," she told The Associated Press.

"Damn the PKK" and "We don't want the PKK in parliament" chanted the crowd, calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish authorities accuse the HDP of supporting terrorism and having ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

The party, which was democratically elected into parliament in 2014, denies the accusation. Its two leaders are currently behind bars on terrorism-related charges.

Turkey is facing renewed conflict with Kurdish rebels in the southeast and has suffered a string of suicide bombings this year.

A Turkey-based Kurdish faction, known as the Freedom Falcons Movement, claimed responsibility for the twin bombings shortly after the end of a soccer match.

Known as TAK, the shadowy group is considered as an offshoot of the PKK. It has also claimed two suicide bombing attacks in Ankara this year.

The group says its actions are revenge for state violence in the southeast and for the detention of Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader and ideologue.

The decades-long conflict between PKK and the Turkish state has killed tens of thousands. Violence resumed after the collapse of peace talks in 2015.