At least 14 dead as protests rage in Turkey over Kobane

At least 14 people were killed as protests by pro-
Kurdish demonstrators raged across Turkey over
the government’s lack of action to save the Syrian
town of Kobane, officials said Wednesday.
The violence was concentrated in the mainly
Kurdish southeast but also flared in Istanbul,
Ankara and other cities, where demonstrators
clashed with police in the most serious pro-
Kurdish rioting in years.
The Turkish army has been deployed on the
streets of the cities of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van
— which have large Kurdish populations — to
impose a curfew, an unprecedented move in
recent years.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)
government has so far not intervened militarily
against Islamic State (IS) jihadists fighting for the
majority-Kurdish border town of Kobane, to the
fury of Turkey’s Kurds.
Eight of the deaths came in Turkey’s main Kurdish
city of Diyarbakir, where the most intense rioting
took place overnight Wednesday, a local security
official told AFP.
Five of them were killed by gunshots in clashes
between pro-Kurdish activists and Islamists,
Dogan news agency reported.
The clashes caused extensive damage in the city
with shop fronts burned-out and buses set on
fire.
Two people were reported killed in Mardin, two in
Siirt, and one in Batman and another in Mus, all
cities in the southeast of Turkey with large
populations of Kurds. Further protests were
planned for Wednesday.
Peace process at risk –
The world’s largest stateless people, Kurds are
spread across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Kurdish militants have waged a deadly insurgency
for three decades for self rule in Turkey.
However, a peace process with the Turkish
government appeared to be making progress
until the Kobane standoff, and the latest protests
threaten to derail the talks entirely.
“We will never tolerate vandalism and other acts
of violence aimed at disturbing the peace,”
Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan said in
comments broadcast on state television.
“Attempts at violence and harm threatening the
peace of our people will never be taken lightly,”
he added.
Police also used tear gas and water cannon to
disperse angry pro-Kurdish protests in Istanbul
and Ankara.
In one act that enraged secular Turks, Kurdish
demonstrators in Mardin set fire to a statue of
the secular founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa
Kemal Ataturk.
Kurds have been particularly irked by the
reluctance of Turkish authorities, who are
concerned by Kurdish separatism, to allow Kurds
over the border to fight Islamic State jihadists.
The government has parliamentary authorisation
to use the military in Syria but says it will only
send in troops if there is a coordinated
international effort to oust President Bashar al-
Assad.

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