Turkish police detain pro-Kurdish party officials

People hold banners and shout slogans during a protest against moves to ban pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party in Istanbul, on March 18, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ISTANBUL (REUTERS) - Turkish police detained three top district officials of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) among 10 people held in an operation targeting Kurdish militants, state media said on Friday (March 19), after a court case was opened to close the HDP.

A Turkish prosecutor filed a case with the Constitutional Court on Wednesday demanding a ban on the HDP, the culmination of a years-long crackdown against the third-largest party in parliament. The HDP called it a "political coup".

Police staged simultaneous raids in four districts and among those detained were the two top HDP officials in the Istanbul district of Kagithane and its Besiktas district head, state-owned Anadolu news agency said.

There were arrest warrants for 15 people in total, it added.

The United States and Europe criticised the move to open the court case, saying it undermined democracy, but a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the HDP had ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.

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