Hundreds of Kurds protest killing of separatist rebels

AFP , Saturday 31 Dec 2011

Hundreds of Kurds on Saturday protested against the killing of two Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey in a shootout with the police who attacked their hideout

The protestors demonstrated near where the two suspected members of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) died in a gunbattle with the police early Saturday in Diyarbakir city. The crowd chanted slogans and threw stones at the police, who responded with water cannon and tear gas grenades and made several arrests.

Ten demonstrators were detained, according to eyewitnesses.

One protestor was injured and immediately taken to hospital, said an AFP reporter at the scene, who was warned by police not to talk to the demonstrators.

Tensions are running high in the region after a botched Turkish air strike killed 35 Kurdish civilians, prompting the PKK to issue a call for an "uprising."

Turkey's military command said it carried out the air strike after a spy drone spotted a group moving toward its sensitive southeastern border under cover of darkness late Wednesday, in an area known to be used by militants.

But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted Friday that the victims were smugglers and not separatist rebels as the army had originally claimed.

The PKK, which took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives, is labelled a terrorist outfit by Ankara and much of the international community.

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