Turkish police, Kurds clash at new year celebrations

March 20, 2012 18:15


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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey - Turkish police fired teargas and water cannon as they clashed with thousands of Kurdish protesters gathered at unauthorized New Year celebrations across southeast Turkey on Tuesday, witnesses said.

Tensions have mounted between Turkey's government and its Kurdish minority following large-scale police and court investigations of links between Kurdish activists and militant separatists from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party and the PKK militants had called for large protests ahead of the Kurdish New Year, which falls on March 21.

Turkish authorities tried to contain the mounting unrest by outlawing public celebrations in the run up to the festival and moved in to break up large gatherings on Tuesday, witnesses told Reuters.

Two police officers were wounded at Yuksekova in Hakkari province, bordering Iran and northern Iraq, after an unidentified gunman opened fire, media reports said.

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