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Dozens of Turkish Kurds arrested

14 April 09 17:20 GMT

Around 50 people have been arrested in Turkey in an operation targeting alleged Kurdish separatists.

Senior members of the main legal Kurdish party, the Democratic Society Party (DTP), were among those arrested.

The DTP branded the move a government attempt to weaken it following gains made in recent local elections.

Arrests took place in 12 different provinces, said the governor's office in the eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, where most were detained.

The governor's office said the operation was aimed at the illegal Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK.

The AFP news agency reported that the suspects arrested included three DTP deputy chairmen, two lawyers representing jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and the chief editor of a Diyarbakir-based private TV channel.

"This operation is a clear indication of the government's intolerance to the election results," said DTP chairman Ahmet Turk, referring to polls last month in which the DTP gained ground on the ruling AKP.

PKK 'losing blood'

Separately, the head of Turkey's armed forces said the PKK was destabilised and no longer able to operate freely across the border in Kurdish northern Iraq.

"The separatist terror group is now losing blood," General Ilker Basbug said on Tuesday.

Turkish forces crossed into Iraqi territory last year in pursuit of the PKK, and have launched regular air raids on PKK positions since then.

Thousands of people have died since the PKK took up arms to fight for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey in 1984.

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