DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party accused the government on Wednesday of standing aside in the face of attempts to “push the country into a civil war” by fomenting violence in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
Four people have been killed since Tuesday and two people were shot and wounded overnight in the city of Diyarbakir, bringing the total wounded to seven, security sources said.
Tensions remained high in the city, just days after a pro-Kurdish party won parliamentary seats in an election and in doing so stripped the ruling AK Party of its overall majority.
Selahattin Demirtas, head of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), told reporters in Ankara the government and President Tayyip Erdogan had kept silent about the violence in order to undermine his party’s success in Sunday’s vote.
“People are taking steps to push the country into a civil war, and the prime minister and president are nowhere to be seen,” said Demirtas, whose HDP won 13 percent to become the first Kurdish party to clear parliament’s threshold.
He did not spell out who these people might be. But the long-running conflict in the Kurdish south-east has spawned an array of militant Kurdish, nationalist and Islamist groupings.
The AK party must now, after 13 years single-party rule, seek a coalition partner, something unlikely to marry well with Erdogan’s preference for strong, unequivocal leadership.
“You would think they are waiting to allow the country to slip into civil war so they can say, ‘Look at how valuable the AKP is,’” Demirtas said.
The violence prompted Ankara to convene a security meeting. A source in Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office told reporters the premier was going to meet with the armed forces head and other senior security officials on Thursday to discuss the unrest.
Aytac Baran, the leader of Islamic aid association Yeni Ihya-Der was shot dead on Tuesday as he left his office in Diyarbakir. His foundation is linked to the Kurdish Islamist political party Huda Par, which draws support from sympathizers of Hizbullah, an outlawed militant group.
Rivalry between outlawed Hizbullah-linked Islamist Kurds and the leftist, autonomy-seeking Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) dates back to the 1990s - the height of the PKK’s armed campaign for self-rule that began in 1984 and claimed 40,000 lives before a ceasefire was declared in 2013.
Supporters of Huda Par said on Tuesday the attack was carried out by PKK sympathisers.
But the PKK denied it was behind the murder, saying in an emailed statement it was a provocation aimed at intimidating Kurds and undermining the electoral success of HDP, whom the government accuses of links with the PKK.
The HDP says it suffered 140 violent attacks during the election in an orchestrated effort to link it to violence, including the bombing of a political rally in Diyarbakir on June 5 that killed three people.
Demirtas said almost all of the attacks orginated from a single “center”. He has also said the bombers had links with Islamic State militants in Syria.
Diyarbakir governor’s office said in a statement that seventeen people were detained over Tuesday’s clashes and police seized a cache of weapons including rifles, pistols, machine guns and ammunition.
Additional reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul and Ercan Gurses in Ankara; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; editing by Ralph Boulton