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Scuffles overshadow Kurdish New Year in Turkey

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Scuffles overshadow Kurdish New Year in Turkey


Celebrations to mark the ancient spring festival of Newroz or Kurdish New Year in Turkey have been relatively peaceful despite some unrest.

Brief scuffles broke out between stone-throwing youths and police during festivities in Istanbul, Izmir and Diyarbakir in the south.

A few dozen people were arrested. A number of people were affected by teargas but no injuries were reported.

Order was restored after organisers appealed for calm.

The Newroz festival has often been a flashpoint for clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish protestors.

Kurds make up an estimated 20 percent of the population in Turkey, where the Kurdish language was banned until 1991 and Kurdish political parties are not allowed.

During the festivities, many people waved Kurdish flags and pictures of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, revered by many as a hero.

To Turkish authorities he is a terrorist who headed a seperatist armed struggle against Ankara in which tens of thousands of people died.

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