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The BBC's Chris Morris in Istanbul
"Thousands of people marched through the streets to the police headquarters"
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 12:22 GMT
Crowds mourn slain Turkish officers

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Turkish city of Diyarbakir to honour six policemen killed in an ambush on Wednesday.

The coffins of the dead officers - who included provincial police chief Gaffar Okkan - were carried through flag-waving crowds of mourners who chanted slogans protesting against the murders.

Gaffar Okkan
Gaffar Okkan led a crackdown against Hezbollah
The officers died when their convoy was attacked with grenades and automatic weapons.

No group has said it was responsible for the attack, but initial suspicion has fallen on a radical Islamic group known as Turkish Hezbollah.

Diyarbakir has been virtually sealed off in the wake of the murders, amid reports that dozens of people have been taken into custody.

Turkish Interior Minister Saadettin Tantan has flown to the city to oversee the murder inquiry.

Bullet riddled car
Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the police chief's car
Several government ministers also travelled to the city to take part in the memorial ceremony.

The BBC's Chris Morris in Instanbul says Mr Okkan had earned the respect of many local people for the way he dealt with security in an often tense city.

Locals say he had reduced the number of checkpoints and the level of police harassment.

In an interview with the local newspaper a few hours before he died, Mr Okkan had said 26 suspected Hezbollah gunmen had been identified in Diyarbakir and he'd promised that they would be captured soon.

If the involvement of Hezbollah is confirmed, it would be the first time the group has killed a Turkish official. So far it has targeted opponents like the Marxist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The body of a Hezbollah victim is carried away
Hezbollah is blamed for hundreds of killings
Hezbollah is held responsible for several hundred killings over the last decade.

Its aim, the authorities say, is to establish a strict Islamic state.

But a major police operation against Hezbollah last year led to the arrest of hundreds of its members.

Scores of bodies of presumed victims of the group were found in dungeons throughout the country.

Diyarbakir was previously at the centre of a conflict with Kurdish separatist rebels.

But the rebels say they have abandoned their armed struggle for self-rule and since 1999 fighting there has dwindled.

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