Prosecutors in Konya say the initial evidence indicated a long-running feud, but the family of the victims said the attack was racist.
Turkish authorities said Saturday that 10 suspects have been arrested for the murder of seven people from an ethnic Kurdish family in Turkey’s central Konya province. Family members say the attack was ethnically motivated, while authorities blamed 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 said initial evidence indicated an ongoing fight between two families living in the same area.
The prosecutor said in a statement that the enmity between the two families dates back to 2010. Two clashes in 2021 have led to an investigation, where two people remain in custody but other suspects have been released. The statement denied the claim of a racially motivated attack.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who said the crime was “cruel” on Saturday, also said the murders were committed because of an 11-year-old family dispute and that they were not committed with a racial motive.
But family lawyers and the pro-Kurdish opposition party say the killings were ethnically motivated.
After a May attack, a family member – who was among the victims on Friday – told reporters they were being persecuted and attacked for being Kurds.
Lawyer Abdurrahman Karabulut said family members were worried they would be attacked as well. Officers said they had not even arrested the gunman.
There were few details about those arrested, but the media said the other family was not Kurdish. It was also reported that the family home was set on fire after the attack.
The co-leader of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) said members of the ethnic Kurdish family had been murdered because of hate speech and linked them to a growing “racist attack”.
Mithat Sancar has accused the government of targeting the HDP and the Kurds in general.
The number of suspected racist attacks against Kurds in Turkey has increased in recent weeks.
In another case in Konya, a man who had previously been threatened with being Kurdish was killed earlier this month, according to media reports.
In this case, too, authorities have denied that the crime had a racial motive.
Turkey has been fighting the Kurdistan Workers ’Party (PKK) outlawed since 1984 and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, including civilians targeted by car bombs in 2016 and 2017 who were blamed on the PKK.
The conflict over decades has also included discriminatory state policies and an ethnically charged atmosphere. The Kurds are the second largest ethnic group in Turkey.