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Kurds clash with police in SE Turkey, three killed

Written by: Staff

ISTANBUL, Apr 3: Hundreds of Kurds clashed with police in southeast Turkey today and in Istanbul three people were killed as they fled protests late yesterday bringing the death toll in violence over the past week to 15.

The latest violence followed days of unrest, triggered by the funerals of 14 rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) killed in clashes with security forces.

The past week has seen some of Turkey's worst civil unrest since the PKK took up arms against the state in 1984.

Demonstrators threw petrol bombs at a bus last evening as the protests reached Turkey's largest city from the mainly Kurdish southeast since. State-run Anatolian news agency quoted Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler as confirming that three people had died, apparently crushed by the bus.

In Istanbul's Gazi district, which has a sizeable Kurdish population, police also fired tear gas to break up a 150-strong group of stone-throwing youths who had set up barricades and set fire to rubbish containers, CNN Turk reported.

''Terror in Istanbul,'' NTV television said on its website.

The governor's office in the mainly Kurdish region's largest city Diyarbakir said the toll there had risen to nine after three people died in hospital. Two people have died in Kiziltepe near the Syrian border and one in the town of Batman.

''We have launched rapid efforts to heal the wounds ... In 10 days 30 of our citizens have lost their lives,'' said Diyarbakir mayor Osman Baydemir.

Baydemir said it was ''shameful'' that an official investigation had been launched into comments he had made about the latest violence, including the deaths of the militants. KURDISH ANGER Security officials told Reuters there were disturbances in the town of Viransehir near the Syrian border today.

Police intervened to try and break up a crowd of some 500 protesters, who threw petrol bombs and stones at the security forces. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The cabinet is expected to discuss the violence at a meeting today and parliament is scheduled to hold a debate on the issue tomorrow.

Some 360 people have been injured in the violence, including 199 members of the security forces. Of 566 people detained by police, 354 have been remanded in custody awaiting trial.

Political analysts and diplomats say the violence reflects local anger over high unemployment, poverty and Ankara's refusal to grant more autonomy to the mainly Kurdish region.

Ankara, like the European Union and the United States, regards the PKK as a terrorist organisation responsible for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since it launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in 1984.

But many Kurds sympathise with the PKK.

The country's main Kurdish political group, the Democratic Society Party (DTP) said the government had failed to respond to its calls for talks on the violence.

''We wanted to talk with (Prime Minister Tayyip) Erdogan, but this was rejected. There is a lack of dialogue. If we don't come together how are we ever going to deal with the problems?'' DTP deputy chairman Hasip Kaplan said during a visit to the Diyarbakir mayor.


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