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Middle East

Two killed in Turkey clashes over PKK cemetery

Cemil Bayik, a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Qandil mountains near the Iraq-Turkey border, October 19, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

ANKARA: Two protesters were killed on Friday in armed clashes with Turkish police that erupted over claims that Kurdish rebel cemeteries had been destroyed, local media reported.

Some 30 masked men in a group of around 150 demonstrators hurled Molotov cocktails and hand grenades at security forces in the Yuksekova district of Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey, the Dogan News Agency said.

Police fired back with water cannon and tear gas, it said, adding that there were also reports of shooting between the demonstrators and security forces.

The violence was sparked by a statement issued by a civil society group condemning what it said was the destruction of cemeteries where fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are buried.

However, the local governor's office denied that any cemeteries had been destroyed by state institutions.

The incident comes after months of calm between the Turkish state and the PKK, which declared a truce in March following clandestine negotiations with the country's spy agency.

However the process stalled after Kurdish rebels announced in September they were suspending their retreat from Turkish soil, accusing the government of failing to deliver on promised reforms.

The PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community, launched an insurgency seeking self-rule in the southeast in 1984 that has claimed about 45,000 lives.

 

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