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At Least 4 Injured in Blast in Turkey’s Diyarbakir | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish police stand guard in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey. (Reuters)

A strong explosion rocked Turkey’s Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish majority city in the country, days ahead of a referendum on broadening President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said that the explosion was an “accident”, adding that no external forces had been involved in the incident in the city which happened during repair work on armored vehicles at police headquarters.

At least four people were wounded in the blast. The Dogan news agency said one was in critical condition.

A large plume of grey smoke could be seen rising over surrounding buildings, a Reuters witness said as ambulances rushed to the scene.

The sound of the explosion was heard in several parts of the city, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

The explosion was near the riot police headquarters in the central, largely residential district of Baglar, where a car bombing by suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants wounded scores of people last November.

Diyarbakir is the largest city in Turkey’s southeast, where the PKK has fought an insurgency against the state for more than three decades to press demands for Kurdish autonomy. The southeast has been battered by renewed fighting between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces since a fragile truce collapsed in summer 2015.

The outlawed PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 during which over 40,000 people have been killed.

The group is designated by Ankara, the United States and the European Union as a terror group.

Turks will on Sunday vote on whether to approve constitutional changes giving Erdogan executive presidential powers, which critics say would drag the country into one-man rule.