Turkish police detain then release Italian election observers

Turkish police on Sunday detained two Italian election observers in the Hani district of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, Turkish news site Artı Gerçek reported.

Sonia Helene Rosset and Noemi Colombo had been invited by the predominantly Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to follow the local polls in Diyarbakır. The two observes were released after a brief detention.

Voters in southeast Turkey went to the polls on Sunday under the heavy presence of security forces. The vote in the Kurdish populated provinces of the country will be a test of approval for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has replaced 95 HDP mayors elected in the last local elections in 2014 with government-appointed ones over links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party.

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeatedly said during his election campaign that his government might resort to the same measure if mayors elected on Sunday are judged to have links to terrorist organisations.