Middle East

Policeman dies a day after being shot during Navroz clashes

A Kurdish protestors run away during clashes with Turkish police during a Noruz celebration in Istanbul, on March 18,2012. (AFP PHOTO/MUSTAFA OZER)

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: A police officer died Wednesday after being shot in clashes as police tried to disperse Kurds staging unauthorized New Year's celebrations, a security source said.

The officer was among 24 people who were injured on Tuesday in clashes that erupted across Kurdish-majority southeast when riot police fired water cannon and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the unauthorized demonstrations.

The officer, along with four other officers and a civilian, was wounded in the town of Cizre in Sirnak province on the border with Iraq, the source said.

Three other officers were also shot in Yuksekova town of Hakkari, another border province mostly populated by the ethnic minority.

Turkish authorities rejected a Kurdish demand to mark Navroz on Sunday, the day of rest in Turkey, designating Wednesday as the only day authorized for New Year celebrations.

On Sunday, thousands of Kurds clashed with police in Istanbul and the southern city of Diyarbakir, leaving nine people injured as security forces tried to stop festivities.

Navroz celebrations are an opportunity for the Kurdish community to demand more rights and to show support for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The bloodiest Navroz in Turkey occurred in 1992, when some 50 people were killed in clashes with security forces in the Kurdish-majority southeast.

The PKK took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.





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