Prosecutors in Konya say initial evidence points to protracted feuds, but the victims’ family says the attack was racist.
Turkish authorities said on Saturday that ten suspects had been arrested in connection with the murder of seven people from an ethnic Kurdish family in central Konya province in Turkey. Family members say the attack was ethnically motivated, while authorities blamed the protracted feud between two families.
Seven people from the Dedeoglu family were killed in a brutal firearms attack on Friday.
A statement from the Konya Prosecutor’s Office said initial evidence was an ongoing fight between two families living 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 remained in custody but other suspects were released. The statement rejects the allegation of a race-motivated attack.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who described the crime as “cruel” on Saturday, also said the killings 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 killings were ethnically motivated.
After an attack in May, one family member – who was among the victims of Friday – told reporters that they were harassed and attacked because they were Kurdish.
Attorney Abdurrahman Karabulut said family members were worried they would be attacked again. Officials said they had not yet arrested the gunman.
There were few details about those arrested, but media reports said the other family was not Kurdish. It was also reported that the family’s house was set on fire after the attack.
The co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Party (HDP) said the ethnic Kurdish family members had been killed for hate speech and linked it to an increase in ‘racist attacks’.
Mithat Sancar has accused the government of targeting the HDP and the Kurds in general.
The number of suspected racist attacks on Kurdish people in Turkey has increased in recent weeks.
In another case in Konya, a man who was previously threatened because he was Kurdish was killed earlier this month, according to media reports.
Also in this case, the authorities denied that the crime was a racism.
Turkey has been fighting the banned 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, who have been blamed by the PKK.
The decades-long conflict also contains discriminatory state policies and an ethnically charged atmosphere. Kurds are the second largest ethnic group in Turkey.