8 killed, 100+ injured as blast rocks Turkey’s Kurdish southeast

Damaged cars are seen on a street after a blast in Diyarbakir, Turkey, November 4, 2016. © Ihlas News Agency via Reuters
At least 8 people have been killed and over 100 injured in a powerful explosion that rocked the city of Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey, which is home to a predominantly Kurdish population, Hurriyet newspaper reported, citing Turkey’s prime minister.

The death toll was announced by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Those killed include two police officers, five civilians, and one person suspected of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), he said.

The blast struck a police department located some 200 meters from Diyarbakır’s prison, Hurriyet Daily News reported, adding that the authorities have banned media outlets from covering the explosion.

According to Turkey’s NTV channel, a car bomb was the likely cause of the explosion.

READ MORE: Turkish police detain 2 leaders of pro-Kurdish party HDP, 11 more MPs

The incident happened just hours after the two co-leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and at least 12 of its MPs were arrested as police raided homes in Ankara and Kurdish-majority areas in eastern Turkey.

The lawmakers were detained after “failing to appear for a summons to testify as part of a counter-terrorism investigation,” Anadolu state news agency reported. The testimonies are connected with “terrorist propaganda” probes related to the Kurdish militant group PKK, and pro-Kurdish protests that ended in violent clashes in October of 2014, which HDP co-chair Demirtas is accused of inciting.

Turkish authorities also blocked access to social media sites on Friday, including Twitter and WhatsApp messenger, an internet monitoring group called Turkey Blocks reported, as cited by Reuters.

#diyarbakir #patlama #terörülanetliyoruz yeterrr 😢😢

A photo posted by Kader Pamuk (@kaderpm) on

Southeast Turkey is an area predominantly populated by Kurds, where Ankara is conducting an operation against the PKK, which it considers to be a terrorist organization. Turkish government forces have been accused of large-scale abuse against the civilian population since launching a crackdown on the region in July of 2015.