A car bomb has killed eight people and injured over 100 in Turkey, hours after Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, the joint leaders of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party, People’s Democracy (HDP), was arrested in Diyarbakir.
Demirtas and Yuksekdag are accused of spreading propaganda for militants fighting the Turkish state.
Demirtas was arrested along with at least nine other MPs.
Militants have been fighting for years to achieve independence for the Kurds, Turkey’s biggest ethnic minority.
Turkey remains under a state of emergency that was imposed after a failed military coup in July.
The emergency allows President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.
The government says those detained had failed to respond to a summons for questioning and issued an arrest warrant for two other HDP MPs currently abroad.
This is a major escalation of a clampdown that has seen Kurdish media closed down and the mayor of Diyarbakir arrested.
Hopes of an end to Turkey’s decades-long Kurdish problem have evaporated since a ceasefire with the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK broke down in 2015, leading to a wave of tit-for-tat attacks.
Mr Demirtas elicited international support with his liberal politics but critics say he has failed to distance the party sufficiently from the PKK. Friday’s detentions are likely to provoke more tension among Kurds – and more violence too.
The government says they were detained for failing to co-operate with a counter-terrorism investigation, which the two leaders vowed to boycott in June.
Defending the arrests, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said: “They did not respect the law.”
The MPs are also accused of spreading propaganda for the PKK, the Kurdish group suspected of a wave of recent attacks including Friday’s car bomb.
Deemed a terrorist organisation by the US, the EU and Turkey, the PKK has been fighting the state since the 1970s in a war which has claimed at least 40,000 lives.