8 Dead in Car Bombing in Southeastern Turkey | NBC 6 South Florida
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8 Dead in Car Bombing in Southeastern Turkey

The blast came hours after authorities detained 11 pro-Kurdish lawmakers as part of ongoing terror-related investigations

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    People watch the damage after an explosion in southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, early Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. A large explosion hit the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast region on Friday, wounding several people, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. The cause of the explosion was not immediately known but Hurriyet newspaper said it may have been caused by a car bomb.

    A large explosion, caused by a car bomb, hit the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast region on Friday, hours after authorities detained at least 12 pro-Kurdish legislators for questioning in terror-related probes.

    Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the blast has killed eight people and injured up to 100. He said seven of people injured remain in hospital. 

    The prime minister said those killed were two police officers, a technician and five civilians. 

    The prime minister also said one of the assailants was "caught dead" but did not provide details.

    The blast occurred in Diyarbakir's Baglar district, near a building used by the riot police. The Diyarbakir governor's office said the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, had claimed the attack.

    Anadolu said the attack was carried out with a minibus laden with a ton of explosives.

    The blast caused a large crater near the police building and damaged several buildings and businesses nearby. Television footage showed people walking among glass and other debris near buildings with windows blown out.

    Turkey has been plagued by a series of deadly bomb attacks in the past 18 months, carried out by Kurdish militants or Islamic State group extremists.

    The PKK has waged a three-decade-long insurgency against the Turkish state and is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its allies. A fragile cease-fire collapsed in 2015 and at least 700 state security personnel and thousands of Kurdish militants have been killed since then, according to Anadolu.

    Hours earlier, police detained 11 legislators from the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, or HDP, including the party's two co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

    The detentions occurred in the middle of the night, with co-chair Demirtas describing on Twitter how he was taken into custody: "Police officials are at the door to my house in Diyarbakir with a detention warrant." State-run Anadolu Agency reported co-chair Yuksekdag was detained in her home in Ankara. Other senior officials taken away included Sirri Sureyya Onder and Idris Baluken. A twelfth legislator was also detained during the day.

    An Interior Ministry statement said a total of 15 detention warrants were issued by the chief public prosecutors in Diyarbakir and the provinces of Sirnak, Hakkari, Van and Bingol. Two of the legislators were determined to be abroad, and authorities are still searching for one.

    Anadolu reported the lawmakers were detained for not appearing in court to testify in ongoing terrorism-related investigations.

    The government accuses the HDP of being the political arm of the PKK, an accusation the party rejects.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior government officials have repeatedly called for the prosecution of pro-Kurdish lawmakers on terrorism-related charges, which was made possible after legal immunities protecting legislators from prosecution were lifted in May.

    Hundreds of charges were filed against HDP lawmakers following the lifting of immunity, including "disseminating terrorist propaganda" and "membership in an armed terrorist organization."

    Demirtas reportedly reacted to the lifting of immunity by saying none of his fellow party members would voluntarily appear in court to testify. "If they want our testimony they'll have to force us there," he said, according to Anadolu.

    Justice Minister Bozdag defended the detentions in a speech Friday, "The legislators that were detained did not help the legal process to proceed, they did not recognize the law. They did not respect the law."

    Earlier this week Gultan Kisanak, the HDP mayor of the largest predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, along with co-mayor Firat Anli, was arrested over alleged membership in the PKK.

    In September, the government similarly ousted 28 mayors and other administrators, mostly from the HDP, and appointed trustees in their place.