Turkish police have detained 18 social media users due to their comments online about the killing of nine Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq on Friday in an attack carried out by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkish Minute reported, citing Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya.
Yerlikaya announced on X on Monday that 170 social media users have been listed either for praising terrorism or for spreading disinformation regarding Friday’s terrorist attack.
The minister said 18 of those social media users have been detained and that efforts are under way to detain 19 others.
Yerlikaya also said 133 of the social media users were abroad and that legal proceedings against them have been initiated.
The nine soldiers were killed when PKK militants staged an attack on their base in northern Iraq on Friday where they had been deployed as part of Turkey’s Operation Claw-Lock.
Turkey has operated several dozen military posts in northern Iraq for the past 25 years in its decades-old war against the PKK, a group designated by Turkey and much of the international community as a terrorist organization.
Following the news about the killing of the nine soldiers, which followed the death of 12 others in northern Iraq in late December, some social media users criticized the government for failing to protect the lives of the soldiers and continuing its operation in northern Iraq despite the challenging weather conditions there.
It’s common for the Turkish government to launch crackdowns on social media during crises in order to silence criticism under the pretext of fighting disinformation.