Turkey arrests two mayors over suspected PKK links

Turkey arrests two mayors over suspected PKK links
Diyarbakir mayors Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli were the latest in a long list of Kurdish mayors who have been arrested and replaced by members of President Erdogan's AKP party.
2 min read
26 October, 2016
Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli were members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party [AFP]

Turkish police arrested the two co-mayors of Diyarbakir, on terrorism charges on Tuesday.

Gultan Kisanak was arrested at the local airport and Firat Anli was arrested at home, as large numbers of police arrived at the town hall, armed with a water-cannon and riot gear, to mount a search operation.

The twin arrests are the latest in a long line of Turkish mayors who have been arrested over relations with the banned Kurdish group, PKK.

Twenty four mayors were arrested last month and replaced with pro-government members of President Erdogan's party, the AKP.

Diyarbakir is Turkey's biggest Kurdish-majority city in the country's east and security forces have increasingly clashed with members of the PKK and other Kurdish groups in the region in recent weeks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly warned that local officials accused of offering logistical help to the PKK - which Ankara considers a terrorist organisation - would be prosecuted.

Armed PKK militants attacked Diyarbakir airport in August and a number of foiled terrorism plots have been linked to the city.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK first took up arms in 1984 demanding an independent state for Kurds. Since then the group has narrowed its demands to greater autonomy and cultural rights.

Violence flared again between Kurdish rebels and government forces last year, shattering a 2013 ceasefire reached after secret talks between PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and the Turkish state.