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Mayors of 3 Turkey's cities detained in crackdown on pro-Kurdish movement

 Mayors of 3 Turkey's cities detained in crackdown on pro-Kurdish movementTurkey detained the mayor of the southeastern city of Van on Thursday, replacing him and two other mayors in the region, security sources said, pressing on with a crackdown on pro-Kurdish politicians.

The government appointed administrators to run the municipalities in Van and the provinces of Siirt and Mardin in the mainly Kurdish south-east, said the sources, who declined to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to media.

Turkey is fighting an insurgency by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, but its arrest of many pro-Kurdish politicians and journalists in the crackdown has triggered concern among its Western allies about the human rights situation in the region.

State-run Anadolu Agency said police detained Van mayor Bekir Kaya at the council offices in the city on the shores of Lake Van, the heart of a province with a population of 1.1 million.

Police searched municipality offices and the houses of Kaya and four other council officials, Anadolu reported. Kaya was sentenced to 15 years in jail in January on a charge of "terror group membership", the agency said, but was appealing the verdict.

It said the interior ministry appointed Van Governor Ibrahim Tasyapan to run the municipality in place of Kaya, who is from the sister party of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), parliament's second biggest opposition party.

Thousands of their members, including party leaders and dozens of mayors, have been detained in investigations accusing them of PKK links. The parties deny such ties and say they working for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

At the start of November, Turkish authorities appointed an administrator to run the south-east's largest city of Diyarbakir, having arrested its co-mayors over alleged PKK ties.

On Wednesday, the mayors of Siirt and the eastern city of Tunceli were arrested over similar accusations.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union and launched an insurgency against the state in 1984 in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.
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