Car bomb blast hits major Kurdish city in southeast Turkey

The attack happened after arrests as part of a terror investigation

Car bomb blast hits major Kurdish city in southeast Turkey

A Turkish police officer stands behind his shield in Istanbul in this file photo | Image: Emrah Gurel AP/Press Association Images

Eight people have been killed in a car bombing in southeastern Turkey, according to the country's prime minister Binali Yildirim.

It is believed that one assailant is also dead.

The attack in Diyarbakir has killed both civilians and police, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

Local reports said some 30 people were injured.

The explosion shattered the windows of nearby buildings and could be heard from several parts of Diyarbakir, the largest city in the region.

Several ambulances were sent to the scene.

The Diyarbakir governor's office said the attack was believed to have been carried out by rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

The attack happened just hours after police arrested the two co-leaders of the country's main pro-Kurdish party and nine other members of parliament.

Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) were detained in their respective homes as part of a terror investigation, reports said.

Their detention was part of a large-scale operation against the HDP, which is the third-largest party in the Turkish parliament with 59 seats.

NTV television said both were accused of spreading propaganda for the PKK, and Demirtas of provoking violence in deadly protests in October 2014.

Turkey has been plagued by a series of deadly bomb attacks in the past 18 months, carried out by Kurdish militants or Islamic State group extremists.

The country remains under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of failed coup in July, which critics say has gone well beyond targeting the actual coup plotters.

Thirteen staff from the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, including the editor-in-chief, were detained on Monday, further heightening strains in Turkish society.

Tensions have soared in the Kurdish-dominated southeast since a fragile ceasefire declared by the PKK collapsed in 2015.

It has since stepped up its insurgency against the Turkish security forces, staging regular attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives among the military and the police.

The HDP seeks to promote the cause of Turkey's Kurdish minority and defend the rights of Kurds as well as those of women, gays and workers.