7 Kurds slain in Turkey; officials deny ethnic motive

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ISTANBUL —
Authorities said Saturday that 10 suspects have been detained over the killing of seven people from an ethnic Kurdish family in Turkey’s central Konya province. Family members say the attack was ethnically motivated, while authorities blame a long-running feud between two families.

Seven people from the Dedeoglu family were killed in a brutal gun attack on Friday. A statement from the Konya prosecutor’s office said initial evidence pointed to an ongoing fight between two families who lived in the same area.

But the family’s lawyer and the pro-Kurdish opposition party say the murders were ethnically motivated. After an attack in May, one member of the family — who was among Friday’s victims — told media that they were being harassed and attacked for being Kurdish.

Lawyer Abdurrahman Karabulut said family members had been worried they will be attacked again. Officials said they had not yet apprehended the gunman.

The prosecutor’s office said in a statement that enmity between the two families dates back to 2010. Two fights in 2021 led to investigations, in which two people remain in custody but other suspects were released. The statement rejected the claim of a racially motivated attack.

There were few details about those arrested, but media reports said the other family was not Kurdish.

The co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, said the ethnic Kurdish family members were murdered because of hate speech and linked it to a rise in “racist attacks.” Mithat Sancar accused the government of targeting the HDP and Kurds in general.

Media reports said the family’s house was set on fire after the attack.

Turkey has been fighting a Kurdish insurgency since 1984 and the conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives, including civilians targeted by car bombs in 2016 and 2017 that were blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK. The decades-long conflict has also included discriminatory state policies and an ethnically charged atmosphere. Kurds are Turkey’s second largest ethnic group.

Interior minister Suleyman Soylu said allegations that the murders were ethnically motivated were a “provocation” against the country’s unity.

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