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THURSDAY, 17 APR 2014
06:35 PM Beirut time
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Kurdish protesters clash with police in Turkey
Agence France Presse
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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: Police and demonstrators clashed in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey on Sunday as tensions mounted following the deaths Friday of two Kurdish protesters.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to break up a demonstration by around 5,000 protesters brandishing effigies of the jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan in the main town of Diyarbakir.

Around a dozen people, including four police officers, were wounded and at least five protesters were arrested.

The clashes come after two protesters, aged 34 and 32, were shot dead Friday in a violent confrontation with police that was sparked by claims that Kurdish rebel cemeteries had been destroyed.

The local governor's office has denied the destruction of these cemeteries, where fighters from Ocalan's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are buried.

As tensions rose, a military source said four soldiers in civilian clothing had been abducted north of Diyarbakir by PKK rebels who torched their vehicles and took them to an unknown location.

A military operation to locate them is under way, the source said.

The latest incidents come 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.

In a statement from his prison cell, Ocalan denounced the deaths of the two protesters as a "great provocation" against the peace process.

 
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