Ankara (AFP) - Turkish police detained two female pro-Kurdish lawmakers Tuesday, as Ankara intensified its crackdown after twin bombings in Istanbul that killed 44 people.
Saturday's bombings, which left 37 police officers among the dead and hundreds more injured, were claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), seen as a radical offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which is itself considered a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Police launched a vast operation on Monday rounding up people accused of PKK links or of producing propaganda for the group, whose three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state has claimed more than 40,000 lives.
A total of 568 people have been detained in 28 cities in less than 48 hours, the interior ministry said Tuesday.
The leftwing pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said late Monday that at least 291 of its members had been rounded up -- and on Tuesday announced that two female MPs had been detained.
"(The) head of the party's parliamentary group Caglar Demirel and Siirt MP Besime Konca were unlawfully detained in front of our (Ankara) headquarters," the party said on Twitter.
Konca was taken to court in the southeastern province of Batman, Dogan news agency said.
She was released under "judicial control", the equivalent of being freed under supervision, but Dogan said she was detained again in the evening while watching Demirel's court hearing in Turkey's largest Kurdish-majority city, Diyarbakir, which Demirel represents.
Konca became the target of an investigation after she allegedly spoke at the funeral of a man killed during security operations against Kurdish rebels in Diyarbakir, Dogan said.
Demirel was charged late Tuesday with "being a member of an armed terror organisation", "producing propaganda for a terror organisation" and allegedly taking part in illegal gatherings despite being warned and not dispersing, state news agency Anadolu said.
She faces up to 23 years in prison.
- 'Full-speed' crackdown -
Last month, 10 HDP MPs -- including co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag -- were arrested, sparking international condemnation. They are currently in pre-trial detention over alleged links to the PKK.
In May, the Turkish parliament adopted a bill that lifted immunity for dozens of MPs, which government critics feared would see HDP MPs face criminal prosecution and lose parliamentary seats.
Natalie Martin, an expert on Turkish politics at Nottingham Trent University, said she suspected the crackdown and arrests would continue.
"It is a continuation of a pattern that has been going full-speed since July," she told AFP, referring to widespread purges after the July 15 failed coup.
Over 100,000 people have been detained, suspended or sacked from the judiciary, media and civil service over suspected links to Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed for the attempted putsch. He denies the charges.
But among those suspended are thousands accused of PKK links and this latest crackdown on the HDP is about "muting the opposition", Martin said.
- 'We want democracy to win' -
The Kurdish conflict surged last year after the collapse of a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire, sparking almost daily clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces, mainly in the southeast.
The Turkish air force hit PKK targets again in the Zap region of northern Iraq on Monday where the group has bases, Anadolu reported.
The government accuses the HDP of links to the PKK, a charge the party denies.
Cabbar Leygara, the party's co-president in Diyarbakir, said Kurdish people wanted to be a part of peaceful parliamentary politics.
"We want democracy to win in Turkey," he said.
German MPs demonstrated in Berlin in support of the HDP on Tuesday, holding photographs of the detained lawmakers and urging Turkey to release them.