As part of a terror probe in eastern and southeastern Turkey, several local officials from the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested early Friday, according to security sources.
Mayor Yaşar Akkuş of eastern Iğdır province from was arrested early Friday as part of the terror investigation. Police units closed off the area surrounding the municipality building and began a simultaneous search at both Akkuş' residence and his office at the municipality said the security sources.
Akkuş was later arrested at his house and taken to the police building. As a search at Akkuş' home and office continues, security units have also arrested three mayors in southeastern Siirt province over suspected links to the PKK terror group.
According to sources, Siirt Mayor Berivan Helen Işık, Deputy Mayor Peymandara Turhan, Kurtalan district's Mayor Baran Akgül, and Baykan district's Mayor Ramazan Sarsılmaz were arrested as part as the terror probe initiated by Siirt's chief public prosecutor.
While police took extensive security measures around both the municipality buildings and police building, searches at all local officials' offices continue.
Trustees have been appointed to replace the old mayors and took office on Friday.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union, has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
The HDP has many times drawn fire for transferring taxpayer money and funds to the PKK, a globally recognized terrorist group. HDP mayors and local officials have been found to misuse funds in support of the PKK terrorist group and provide jobs to PKK sympathizers.
Its mayors have also been accused of undermining municipal services, allowing the PKK to dig ditches in the streets and launch attacks on police and soldiers when the terrorist group adopted an urban warfare strategy in July 2015 and ended a two-year reconciliation period. HDP municipalities and their staff were also found to be actively participating in terrorist attacks launched after July 2015.
In last year’s local elections, HDP won 65 of the municipalities in the country, three of which were metropolitan municipalities. Since then, with the addition of these last arrests, 45 of them have been replaced with trustees due to suspected links to terrorism.
Within the first five months following the elections, the mayors of the three metropolitan municipalities, which were Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van, were dismissed due to terrorism links. They were followed by many other mayors who have been replaced with trustees due to similar reasons.
The last move against the HDP municipalities took place in March, when five HDP municipality heads were replaced with trustees, including the head of the Batman provincial municipality.