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Erdogan denounces Turkey protests as peace process 'sabotage'

10 october 2014, 13:28
0

 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Thursday that the peace process with Kurdish rebels would not be derailed by "sabotage", after at least 27 people were killed in protests over the government's policy on Islamic State (IS) militants, AFP reports.

Ankara has not intervened militarily against IS jihadists trying to take the mainly Kurdish town of Kobane just across the Syrian border, to the fury of Turkey's Kurds.

Protesters in several cities in the southeast of the country with large Kurdish populations clashed with police for the fourth day running, in the worst outbreak of such violence in years.

The trouble has sparked fears that the standoff over Kobane could endanger talks between the government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighting an insurgency for self-rule in southeast Turkey.

Erdogan blamed the unrest on the "dark forces" seeking to sabotage the delicate peace process to end 30 years of violence that has claimed at least 40,000 lives.

"It's very obvious that this game is aimed at sabotaging the peaceful environment in the east and southeast as well as the peace process and our brotherhood," Erdogan said.

The latest deaths occurred Thursday evening in the southeastern province of Gaziantep where at least four people died in clashes between rival groups armed with rifles, pistols and axes, Dogan news agency reported.

In the southeastern province of Mardin, one protester was killed in scuffles with police.

Separately, in the eastern city of Bingol, two police officers and a guard were killed and the city's police chief was wounded when unidentified gunmen opened fire on them from a car.

The officers were out inspecting material damage from the demonstrations at the time but there was no immediate confirmation the attack was linked to the protests.

  Curfew defied 

 The PKK has largely observed a ceasefire since March last year. Despite a freeze in peace talks the process appeared to be making progress until the Kobane standoff.

Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan has called for peace talks to move forward, a top Kurdish politician said Thursday.

Defying a curfew imposed by the army, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in southeast Turkey overnight Wednesday to Thursday and were dispersed by police using water cannon and tear gas, television said.

Clashes also took place in Ankara, the southern city of Mersin and in Istanbul, where demonstrators threw stones and anti-riot police responded with tear gas, an AFP correspondent said.

At Istanbul University, police on Thursday detained 28 students following clashes between IS-supporters and anti-jihadist protesters.

Police also detained 50 women from an anti-war group who staged a protest against IS and the government at Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

The video footage showed police apparently beating women who resisted, kicking some of them in the head and grabbing one woman by the hair.

But the latest unrest was less bloody than Tuesday's protests, when at least 10 people were killed in Turkey's main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, where supporters of an extremist Sunni Kurdish group clashed with anti-IS Kurds.

Amnesty International urged the government to "act to stop the spiralling violence" saying its actions "now will have far-reaching consequences."

"It is essential that the Turkish authorities act now to calm tensions with firm but rights-respecting policing and a commitment to investigate promptly the... deaths and scores of injuries of protesters," said the group's Andrew Gardner.


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