Source Pravda.Ru

150 injured while Kurdish protesters and nationalist Turks clash

Nationalist Turks and Kurdish demonstrators armed with stones clashed in a northwestern town. Up to 150 people injured, including police and soldiers.

Clashes in Bozuyuk town in Bilecik province broke out Sunday when a group of nationalist Turks threw stones at buses carrying pro-Kurdish demonstrators, following violent clashes between Kurdish demonstrators and police in Istanbul.

The demonstrators provoked residents by waving banned Kurdish rebel banners and flashing victory signs and posters of imprisoned rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan, authorities said.

Nationalist Turks oppose any concessions toward Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey in a conflict that has claimed the lives of 37,000 people since 1984.

Kurdish demonstrators in Istanbul threw stones and firebombs earlier Sunday during a rally to protest the solitary confinement of imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Later, paramilitary police blocked thousands of pro-Kurdish demonstrators from entering the northwestern port town of Gemlik to stage an unauthorized demonstration. The port is used by Ocalan's lawyers to travel to the prison island of Imrali, where the rebel leader is the only inmate.

On their return, angry Turkish nationalists stopped the convoy at a makeshift roadblock in Bozuyuk, set car tires on fire and smashed the windows of the buses with stones, video footage showed.

Gov. Musa Colak of Bilecik blamed the demonstrators, saying a group got off the buses and smashed shop and car windows, "provoking residents in the street."

Colak said 144 people were injured in the clashes, including 17 policemen and seven soldiers and a government doctor.

Reinforcement paramilitary troops and police were sent in and the situation was quite on Monday morning, private NTV television said.

A one-month unilateral cease-fire declared by Ocalan's Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, ends Sept. 20. The group hoped to initiate indirect talks with the government following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's offer to improve economic conditions in predominantly Kurdish areas and offer greater cultural freedoms for Kurds.

The United States and European Union list the PKK as a terrorist organization. According to the AP Turkish officials have not responded to the truce, and military officials have repeatedly said that they will fight until all rebels surrender or are killed.

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