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235 detained in police raids across Turkey after deadly bomb attack

Some 235 people have been detained in anti-terrorism operations across Turkey, the Interior Ministry has said.

The state-run Anadolu Agency quoted the ministry as saying 235 people in 11 cities were arrested on terrorism-related charges and for spreading terrorist propaganda on social media.

The reports did not specify whether the individuals arrested were suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on Saturday near the Besiktas football stadium in Istanbul which killed at least 44 people and injured 155 others.

That figure includes 36 police officers and eight civilians, according to health minister Recep Akdag, who was quoted by the state-run Anadolu Agency.

Anadolu said at least 37 members of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, or HDP, were detained early on Monday in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.

The state-run television channel TRT reported similar dawn raids, saying 58 were detained in the port city of Mersin and 51 in Sanliurfa in the south-east. All were rounded up for alleged terrorism links.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish authorities accuse the HDP of supporting terrorism and having ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

That is a charge the party, which was democratically elected into parliament in 2014, denies. Its two leaders are currently behind bars on terrorism-related charges.

Turkey, which is facing renewed conflict with Kurdish rebels in the south-east and has suffered a string of attacks related to the Islamic State group, is facing major security challenges.

A state of emergency was decreed in the wake of a failedcoup attempt on July 15 which the authorities blame on a US-based Islamist cleric.

That measure and the sweeping purges of state institutions that followed have alarmed Western governments, human rights group and legal experts.

Turkey's campaign against armed Kurdish militants in the south-east has also drawn criticism over the disproportionate use of force and the displacement of thousands of individuals.

A Turkey-based Kurdish faction, known as the Freedom Falcons Movement, claimed responsibility for twin bombings that struck shortly after the conclusion of a soccer match.

Known as TAK, the shadowy group is considered as an offshoot of the PKK. It has also claimed two suicide bombing attacks in Ankara this year.

The group says its actions are revenge for state violence in the south-east and for the ongoing detention of Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader and ideologue.

The PKK and the Turkish state have been locked in a decades-long conflict that has killed tens of thousands. Violence resumed between them after the collapse of peace talks in 2015.

AP

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