Van Mayor Bekir Kaya, who was elected on the ticket of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the 2014 local elections, was taken to İstanbul’s Silivri Prison after a Van court ruled for his arrest on Friday.

Counterterrorism police raided the Van municipal offices on Thursday and conducted searches of the premises as part of an investigation by the Van Public Prosecutor’s Office into HDP members over alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

After Mayor Kaya was taken into custody by police, hundreds of municipal employees gathered in front of city offices to protest the detention.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry has also appointed trustees to the Van, Mardin and Siirt municipalities in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern regions, replacing democratically elected pro-Kurdish mayors with government appointees.

In a statement on Thursday morning, the Interior Ministry announced that Mardin Mayor Ahmet Türk, Van Mayor Bekir Kaya, who was detained in the early hours of Thursday, and Siirt Mayor Tuncer Bakırhan, who was arrested on Wednesday, have been removed from their posts.