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Turkey ousts 28 mayors over Gulen, Kurdish militia links

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses governors during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, September 8, 2016. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION New Delhi, India Sep 11, 2016, 02.21 PM (IST)
Turkey on Sunday ousted 28 mayors for their alleged links to Kurdish militants and the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. They were replaced with state-appointed trustees.

The mayors are suspected to have links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), blamed for the failed July 15 coup, an interior ministry statement said.

The interior ministry said 24 of the 28 mayors are accused of links to the Kurdistan Workers Party, and four to Gulen. 

The move has been taken by new interior minister Suleyman Soylu, who took over from Efkan Ala in a reshuffle earlier this month.

The mayors were elected in the 2014 local polls and the affected municipalities include Sur and Silvan in the Diyarbakir region and Nusaybin in the Mardin region.

Twelve of the suspended mayors are already under arrest.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) denounced the reshuffle as a "coup".

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag accused the suspended mayors of funnelling revenues to "terror" groups.

"Being elected does not grant a right to commit a crime," he tweeted.

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