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Turkish leftists clash with police at funeral of female radicals

AFP , Wednesday 23 Dec 2015
Police use teargas against masked and armed men after the funeral of Sirin Oter and Yeliz Erbay, two women killed during security operations on Tuesday, in Istanbul, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (Photo: AP)

Supporters of a Turkish ultra-left movement clashed with police on Wednesday at the funeral of two female radicals killed by security forces in an Istanbul shootout, an AFP photographer said.

Hundreds of people turned out in the Gazi district of Turkey's largest city for the funerals of Sirin Oter and Yeliz Erbay, who were killed in a police raid Tuesday.

The authorities said the two were members of the banned Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) and described them as "terrorists" linked to a previous attack against police in Istanbul.

At the funeral, around a dozen armed individuals, some brandishing Kalashnikov rifles and wearing red face masks, fired in the air, shooting down a small police observation drone used for crowd-monitoring purposes.

"The killers will be held to account by the MLKP," they chanted.

Police fired tear gas and used water cannon on the crowds, scattering people in all directions.

The two women were given a hero's burial in Gazi -- known as a stronghold of the hard left -- with mourners holding banners reading "Revolution of Women. Brave warriors. Your way is our way."

They also shouted slogans against the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the photographer said.

Many residents of Gazi are strictly secular Kurds and adherents of the Alevi branch of Islam, known for their hardline opposition to the Islamic-rooted ruling party.

Among the mourners was Figen Yuksekdag, the co-leader of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

The women were said by the authorities to be part of a cell linked to a mysterious bomb attack on December 1 near an Istanbul metro station that wounded up to half a dozen people.

The MLKP's goals of a Communist revolution in Turkey are similar to those of the ultra-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) which has carried out a string of small scale attacks in the last few years.

The MLKP is also active in the Kurdish cause and several of its members have reportedly gone to Syria to fight for Kurdish militias against Islamist jihadists there.

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