2 dead, 100 hurt in blasts at Kurdish rally in Turkey

Pro-Kurdish party leader calls for calm as President Erdogan says the blasts a "provocation" to undermine peace

2 dead, 100 hurt in blasts at Kurdish rally in Turkey

World Bulletin / News Desk

Two people have been killed and more than 100 others were injured in two consecutive explosions at an election rally of a pro-Kurdish opposition party in the southeastern Diyarbakir province Friday, Turkish Agriculture Minister Mehmet Mehdi Eker said.

The blasts took place near the Diyarbakir's Istasyon Square where the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was holding an election rally.

Earlier, Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu told reporters in the western Bursa province that between 20 and 24 people had been hospitalized.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz ruled out that the explosions were caused by a roadside power grid as preliminary reports earlier indicated.

"We have sent personnel from Dicle Electricity and Turkish Electricity Transmission Company to the blast site. After examination, it was notified clearly to me that the power grid did not cause the explosions," Yildiz told reporters in the central Kayseri province.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu took immediate notice of the incident and ordered authorities to investigate the nature of the blasts.

"We will find out at the earliest whether it is really a power grid explosion or a provocation. We will bring to light the reason behind it and take the perpetrators to task," Davutoglu said in the southeastern Gaziantep province, adding that he hoped the injured people would recover soon.

A statement from the Interior Ministry said a group of experts has been sent to Diyarbakir to investigate the blasts.

Following the explosions, some groups of people pelted stones on the police in Diyarbakir’s Ofis district. A police vehicle was also set on fire. Police responded with tear gas and water cannon in an attempt to disperse the protesters.

Davutoglu urged the people of Diyarbakir not to succumb to any provocation.

"As the prime minister, I always condemn any attack against any of the opposition parties just as I react harshly to the one against [the ruling] AK Party," he said, adding that all necessary precautions were being taken.

Addressing crowds in front of the party headquarters in Diyarbakir, the HDP's co-chairman, Selahattin Demirtas, also warned against acting out in fury.

"Do not mind those who want to stir up your anger. No dirty ploy can be successful before such a strong nation. They are not going to make it, and we will win. Peace and freedom will win," he said, praising the rally-goers' "common sense and discipline", which he said prevented a bigger tragedy.

Demirtas also stressed the importance of finding the real cause of the twin blasts, and their perpetrators if it is found out that they were planned attacks.  

"This should not be covered up," he said.

Chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, at an election rally in Izmir's Aliaga district in western Turkey, alleged that the explosions were "likely provocative acts", which could have been averted with proper security measures.

"Security forces must take measures before each rally. They should have been much more careful in a vulnerable city like Diyarbakir. It seems that they were not," he said, adding that he hoped the death toll would not rise, and that the perpetrators would be found and brought to court.

The HDP is standing as a party for the first time in Turkey’s general election on Sunday, seeking to pass the 10 percent threshold that will allow it to gain seats in the Grand National Assembly.

The party currently has lawmakers who stood as independents in the 2011 election and joined the party after being elected.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Haziran 2015, 11:01