Turkish authorities said on Saturday that 10 suspects have been arrested 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.
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.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who called the crime “cruel” on Saturday, also said the murders were carried out due to an 11-year family feud and were not committed with a racial motive.
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 reporters that they were being harassed and attacked for being Kurdish.
Lawyer Abdurrahman Karabulut said family members had been worried they would be attacked again. Officials said they had not yet apprehended the gunman.
There were few details about those arrested, but media reports said the other family was not Kurdish. It was also reported the family’s house was set on fire after the attack.
The co-leader of the pro-Kurdish 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.
The number of suspected racist attacks on Kurdish people in Turkey has risen in recent weeks.
In another case in Konya, a man who had previously been subjected to threats for being Kurdish was killed earlier this month, according to media reports.
In this case, too, the authorities have denied the crime had a racial motive.
Turkey has been fighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since 1984 and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, including civilians targeted by car bombs in 2016 and 2017 that were blamed on the PKK.
The decades-long conflict has also included discriminatory state policies and an ethnically charged atmosphere. Kurds are Turkey’s second-largest ethnic group.