District governor replaces arrested pro-Kurdish mayor in Turkey’s southeast

The governor of the Kulp district in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority province of Diyarbakır has been appointed to replace the elected mayor from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Mehmet Fatih Taş, who was arrested on charges related to a terrorist attack, reported state-owned news agency Anadolu Agency (AA) on Tuesday.

Taş was arrested on Monday on charges related to a terrorist attack on Sept.12 in Diyarbakır in which seven civilians lost their lives, AA quoted the Diyarbakır Governorate as saying in a statement released the same day.

District Governor Mustafa Gözlet will be replacing Taş as acting mayor as a precaution, AA said.

Taş is involved in five separate investigations and one criminal proceeding for membership to a terrorist organisation and disseminating terrorist propaganda, the governorate said.

Taş had been arrested together with his co-mayor Fatma Ay, HDP’s district chairperson Abidin Karaman, the municipality’s public works director Şener Aktaş and Mehmet Emin Ay on Monday, the agency said.

The police had searched Kulp Municipality and HDP’s district offices upon witness testimony that a municipality-owned vehicle was seen at the grounds shortly before the attack, confiscating documents and CCTV recordings, according to AA.

The attack in question took place in Diyarbakır's Kulp district, where a vehicle was targeted by an improvised explosive device, killing seven people and injuring ten others. Turkey's interior ministry said the attack was carried out by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been engaged in an armed conflict with Turkey for over three decades, but the PKK has not assumed responsibility directly.