Turkey arrests 35 Kurds

ANKARA — An off-duty soldier died after being shot in southeast Turkey, while 35 Kurds were arrested Monday in the region with suspected links to urban wing of the separatist Kurdish rebels.

Two off-duty sergeants, wearing civilian clothes, were shot on Sunday by unidentified gunmen in the town of Yuksekova in Hakkari province, with one dying of his wounds in hospital on Monday, Anatolia news agency reported.

The other soldier was still under treatment in hospital, Anatolia said. The sergeants were walking in the centre of the town, when they were shot from behind, Anatolia said.

Meanwhile, 35 Kurds including local politicians and mayors were arrested on Monday in Hakkari due to suspected links to the so-called “urban wing” of separatist Kurdish rebels, security sources said.

The detainees include two deputy mayors of Hakkari and the local leader of Turkey’s main Kurdish movement Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) there, the sources said.

The detainments came amid a wave of arrests in many southeast cities in an ongoing investigation into the Kurdistan Associations Union (KCK), which prosecutors describe as a terrorist group that acts as the urban extension of the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

A similar case is ongoing in Diyarbakir province against some 150 suspects. The suspects include the mayor of Diyarbakir, the regional capital of Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast and other prominent Kurds.

Violence had flared in the southeast over the past week following a decision by Turkey’s electoral board to bar seven prominent Kurdish-backed candidates from running in general elections on June 12.

On Thursday, the board reversed its ruling for six of the candidates, among them iconic Kurdish activist Leyla Zana, in a move that did much to quell Kurdish anger.

Nevertheless, smaller demonstrations continued over the weekend to protest the killing of a young man allegedly by police in the earlier clashes.

Two Kurds were also arrested Monday for hurling Molotov cocktails into a supermarket in Adiyaman city last week, Anatolia news agency reported.

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