Car bomb strikes police bus in southeast Turkey - minister

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, Dec 16 (Reuters) - A roadside car bomb exploded, damaging a police minibus on a highway in southeast Turkey's Diyarbakir province on Friday, and nine people in the bus were taken to hospital as a precaution, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said.

Five people, believed to be the perpetrators of the blast and collaborators, have been detained, Soylu said, blaming the attack on "the terrorist organisation," which usually refers to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Security sources and media reports said earlier that eight police officers were wounded in the explosion, but Soylu told reporters that "nothing happened" to the nine people, including one civilian.

He said all nine were discharged from hospital, where they had been taken as a precaution.

The perpetrator, who Soylu said admitted responsibility, had a sibling in the PKK who was "neutralised" by security forces in 2004, Soylu said.

The blast occurred near a livestock market some 10 km (6 miles) south of the centre of Diyarbakir, the largest city in the region, security sources said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Kurdish, leftist and Islamist militants have all carried out bomb attacks in Turkey in the past.

A bomb killed six people and wounded dozens in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, last month. Dozens of people, including a Syrian woman, were detained as suspects.

Turkey blamed Kurdish militants for that blast, but no group claimed responsibility then, either. The PKK and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied involvement.

The PKK launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, largely focused in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

It is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Bradley Perrett and Hugh Lawson

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