Turkish police use tear gas against Kurd protesters

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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, Nov 25 (Reuters) Turkish police used water cannon, tear gas and batons against Kurdish protesters today in clashes highlighting tensions over prosecutors' efforts to shut down a Kurdish political party.

The protesters hurled stones at police and burnt tyres after being prevented from marching through the centre of Diyarbarkir, largest city of Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.

The demonstrators shouted slogans in support of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), which prosecutors want closed down, and in favour of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of Kurdish PKK guerrillas who are fighting Turkish security forces.

Police detained dozens of people during the clashes.

Earlier, up to 40,000 people attended a DTP rally in Diyarbakir that condemned Turkey's threat to send troops into nearby northern Iraq to crush PKK guerrillas hiding there and called for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue.

''At this rally, we say enough is enough. Enough of denying the Kurds. Enough of trying to solve problems through (military) operations,'' said DTP parliamentarian Selahattin Demirtas.

Kadri Yildirim, a DTP supporter at the rally, told Reuters: ''We are here to stop bloodshed in this country, to stop the tears of Turkish and Kurdish mothers, to consolidate peace and brotherhood.'' Turkey's Constitutional Court agreed on Friday to examine a call from state prosecutors to shut down the DTP because of its calls for autonomy for the mainly Kurdish southeast and its suspected links to the PKK guerrillas.

The DTP says it rejects violence and wants to secure more political and cultural rights for Turkey's large ethnic Kurdish population by purely peaceful, democratic means. But it has refused Ankara's demand that it condemn the PKK as terrorists.

The DTP has 20 members of parliament, some of whom are also currently under investigation for comments they have made, though as lawmakers they have immunity from prosecution.

Many Turks view the DTP as a mouthpiece for the rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Ankara blames for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since it began its armed struggle for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.

REUTERS JT KN2246

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