Turkish police and Kurds clash, bomb wounds 12

Reuters News
|
Posted: Jul 14, 2012 9:35 AM
Turkish police and Kurds clash, bomb wounds 12

By Seyhmus Cakan

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Riot police fired water cannon and teargas as they clashed with stone-throwing Kurdish protesters in south-east Turkey on Saturday, and militants elsewhere in the region detonated a bomb that wounded 12 police officers.

Kurdish members of parliament were caught up in the rioting as police and demonstrators battled on the streets of the main south-eastern city of Diyarbakir, where the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) had sought to hold a rally.

Some of the demonstrators tried to pull up paving stones and break them to throw at the police; others pushed over refuse containers in an attempt to barricade some streets.

Police, demonstrators and at least one BDP deputy were hurt in the rioting, and some protesters were detained, witnesses said. No figures were immediately available.

The local governor had refused the party permission to hold the rally, planned in part to call for the release of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The rally coincided with the first anniversary of a declaration of "democratic autonomy" by Kurdish politicians, and it was also exactly one year after PKK guerrillas killed 13 soldiers in an attack in Diyarbakir.

Police issued warning calls for the crowds, which included children, to disperse before officers in riot gear moved in to break up the groups.

In the eastern town of Edremit, in Van province on the border with Iran, PKK militants detonated a roadside bomb by remote control, wounding 12 police officers after they got out of a vehicle, security sources said.

The wounded police were not reported to be in serious condition.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK took up arms against the state in 1984 with the aim of creating a separate state in mainly Kurdish south-east Turkey.

POLICE AND MPS IN STANDOFF

In Diyarbakir, tensions were high between police and members of the BDP seeking to reach the planned site for the rally. Police first blocked a BDP bus, then blocked the path of some 50 politicians who were walking toward the site, leading to shoving between the two sides.

"You cannot block the path of members of parliament. You are committing a crime," BDP Chairman Selahattin Demirtas told the police.

One BPD deputy got soaked by a water cannon in the central commercial district of Ofis as the police dispersed the crowd.

Elsewhere in the southeast, on the road between Siirt and Sirnak provinces, a group of PKK militants set up a road block on Saturday afternoon and halted vehicles to carry out identity searches of vehicles passing through.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Pravin Char and Alessandra Rizzo)