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Kurds and Turkish police clash on anniversary of PKK leader's capture


Turkey

Kurds and Turkish police clash on anniversary of PKK leader's capture

Clashes between Kurds and Turkish security forces have once again broken out in Cizre province in the south east of the country.

Demonstrators fought with police as violence erupted on this an emotionally charged weekend for Kurds.

Thousands have been holding rallies in towns across the region marking the16th anniversary of the capture of the leader of the the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan.

While Ocalan is viewed by nationalist Turks as being responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the group’s 30-year insurgency, many Kurds see the 65-year-old as a symbol of their struggle for greater cultural and political rights.

Ocalan who founded the PKK in1978, was captured on February 15 1999 while fleeing the Greek Embassy in Nairobi after a year-long international manhunt for him.

He was sentenced to death for treason but his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Earlier in the day protesters threw petrol bombs at armoured police vehicles while riot police responded with water cannon.

Back in 2012 the Turkish government opened talks with the jailed Ocalan

The PKK subsequently declared a ceasefire and began a slow withdrawal from Turkey to camps in northern Iraq.

But Ankara’s hopes of a complete end to the PKK as an armed group have been frustrated by the role it has recently carved out for itself fighting in Syria and Iraq against ISIL.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the European Union.

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