An explosion at a police compound in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır killed two people and wounded several others on Tuesday, days ahead of a national referendum, but the interior minister ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack.
The blast, which caused part of the police compound’s roof to collapse, occurred during the repair of an armored vehicle, the Diyarbakır Governor’s Office said. It said one person had died in the hospital and that the cause of the blast was unknown.
Since the announcement, civilian Cengiz Tekin has died in a hospital from injuries sustained in the blast.
Diyarbakır is the largest city in Turkey’s Southeast, where outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants have fought an insurgency for more than three decades to press demands for Kurdish autonomy. Violence has flared up again since a cease-fire collapsed in July 2015.
But Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the explosion, which sent a large plume of smoke over surrounding buildings and left a crater in the ground, appeared to have been an accident.
“The blast was in a part of the building for riot police, where maintenance is carried out on vehicles,” he was quoted by broadcaster CNN Türk as saying during a speech in İstanbul.
“At the moment, it seems there is no outside interference, and the explosion came from the vehicle under repair. One person was trapped under the wreckage,” he said.
The explosion came ahead of a hotly contested referendum on Sunday on broadening President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s powers, a constitutional change opposed by many in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast.
The blast was in the central, largely residential district of Bağlar, where a car bombing by suspected PKK militants wounded scores of people last November.