Protesters, Turkish police clash over curfews

AFP , Tuesday 22 Dec 2015

A masked protester runs for cover after throwing a petrol bomb towards Turkish police firing tear gas to disperse a demonstration in Istanbul protesting security operations against Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey on December 20, 2015 (Photo: AFP)

Turkish police on Tuesday fired tear gas cannisters and used water cannon to disperse thousands of people protesting in the southeast against the military crackdown on Kurdish rebels, an AFP photographer said.

The protesters sought to march on the Sur neighbourhood of the southeastern city of Diyarbakir -- which has been under an almost constant curfew since December 2 -- but were halted by a police barricade.

The police fired tear gas cannisters and water cannon, sparking chaotic scenes as protesters sought to flee the streets amid clouds of smoke.

The pro-Kurdish protesters meanwhile threw stones at the security forces, the photographer added. Protesters sought to kick the tear gas cannisters away to prevent being overcome.

Turkish security forces are currently imposing curfews in five towns in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey in a bid to root out Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels from urban centres.

According to the Turkish military, a total of 15 Kurdish militants have been killed in the Sur neighbourhood since the offensive began, including eight on Monday alone.

In the town of Cizre in Sirnak province, which has been under curfew since early last week, 103 Kurdish militants have been killed.

It is not possible to independently verify the figures. A Turkish soldier was also killed on Monday in Sur, according to the army.

The operations mark a new escalation in five months of fighting with the PKK since a two-and-a-half year truce collapsed in July.

The PKK launched a formal insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, initially fighting for Kurdish independence although it now presses more for greater autonomy and rights for the country's largest ethnic minority.

The conflict has left tens of thousands dead.

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