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Turkey detains doctors’ union chair after chemical weapons comment

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Turkish police have detained the head of Turkey’s doctors’ union on allegations of spreading “terrorist propaganda” after she urged a probe into the army’s alleged use of chemical weapons against Kurdish militants, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the prosecutor’s office.

Şebnem Korur Fincancı, 63, a forensic expert, was taken into custody at her home in Istanbul on Wednesday and was being brought to Ankara for questioning.

Turkey has firmly rejected the allegations that appeared in media outlets close to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that its army was using chemical weapons in its counterterrorism operations in northern Iraq.

Fincancı, head of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and a prominent human rights activist, said she had examined video images and called for a probe.

Fincancı told AFP last week that she had only called for “an effective investigation” into the allegations.

The Ankara chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement Wednesday Fincancı was detained over her comments in media outlets acting as mouthpieces for the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.

The prosecutor’s office also demanded that Fincancı be stripped of her position as the head of the union and said a new chair should be elected.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday accused Fincancı of “speaking the language of terrorism” and said she could not remain at the top of the doctors’ union.

The PKK has kept up a deadly insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984.

The Turkish army has launched successive operations against the militant group’s rear bases in northern Iraq, a persistent thorn in Ankara’s ties with the Baghdad government.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Monday said the Turkish armed forces had “no chemical weapons in its inventory.”

“This is out of the question,” he added, slamming the claims as “vile slander.

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