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Tuesday, February 16, 1999 Published at 12:19 GMT


World: Europe

Kurds storm embassies across Europe



Hundreds of supporters of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan are occupying Greek embassies and other public buildings around Europe.

They stormed the diplomatic missions before dawn on Tuesday after hearing reports that the PKK leader had been handed over by the Greek embassy in Nairobi to the Kenyan authorities.

The protesters have taken embassy staff and their families hostage in the Greek embassies in Vienna and the Hague, and elsewhere have threatened to set themselves on fire unless Mr Ocalan is released.

There follows a run-down of incidents:

United Kingdom
[ image: Ocalan's picture on the consular ensignia in Berlin]
Ocalan's picture on the consular ensignia in Berlin

In what appears to have been the first occupation, a group of more than 50 demonstrators stormed the Greek embassy in London's Holland Park in the early hours of Tuesday and barricaded themselves inside.

Armed police surrounded the building and another group of Ocalan supporters staged a protest outside. More have been arriving throughout the morning.

One man, the embassy caretaker, is thought to be held inside the building and a spokesman for the protesters told Reuters news agency: "We are ready to die; We have petrol and we are ready to burn ourselves."

Police have described the situation as "calm" and say they are negotiating with the protesters inside the embassy.

Austria

PKK supporters stormed the Greek embassy and the Kenyan embassy in Vienna 0400 GMT. Greek Foreign Minister Pangalos said the ambassador was being held hostage. Austrian police said his wife was also in the building.

At 0730 GMT more Kurds stormed the Kenyan embassy which is close by. They are reported to have threatened to burn down the building.

Netherlands


[ image: The PKK flag flies in The Hague where three hostages are being held]
The PKK flag flies in The Hague where three hostages are being held
Around 150 Kurds stormed the Greek ambassador's residence in The Hague and have taken his wife and 8-year-old son hostage. A Philippines national was also taken hostage in the building.

Dutch police say the protesters do not appear to be armed but the Greek Foreign Minister Theodore Pangalos said the ambassador's family are being threatened with a hand grenade.

Police in riot gear are reported to have made many arrests outside the building after they charged a group of demonstrators.

Switzerland

In Geneva, protesters slipped into the European headquarters of the United Nations, the Palais des Nations, and occupied a conference room.

A UN spokeswomen said they entered the grounds of the Palais shielded by a delivery truck at at 0430 GMT.

She said the protesters had broken into the building, smashing doors and a security camera.

Kurdish activists occupied the Greek embassy in the Swiss capital Bern and in the country's consulate in Zurich. In Bern a threat was issued by protesters that they would torch themselves if Mr Ocalan was not released.

Germany

Germany has a large Kurdish population and pro-PKK action has been seen in at least six cities around the country.

Greece's embassy in Bonn has been occupied by between 20 and 30 protesters.

Protesters are also reported to have stormed the Kenyan embassy in Bonn and to have taken the ambassador hostage.

Fifty activists stormed the Greek mission in Frankfurt and demanded a meeting with the consul.

In Berlin, police said about 150 protesters, including children, entered the Greek consulate on a square in the city's main shopping district at 0330 GMT.

The Greek flag was replaced by the red, yellow and green PKK flag.

Similar protests were held in Hamburg, Duesseldorf, and Stuttgart.

Russia


[ image: Moscow: Protesters gave themselves up after two hour siege]
Moscow: Protesters gave themselves up after two hour siege
In Moscow, Kurdish activists occupied the Greek embassy but they left at around noon.

They occupied the embassy for about two-and-a-half hours before giving themselves up.

Moscow police officers arrested 15 Kurdish activists who entered the embassy, Interfax news agency reported.

It said the Kurds would probably be charged with public order offences.

France

In Marseille, several dozen demontrators occupied the Greek consulate and threatened to set themselves on fire.

Police are reported to have begun to evict the protesters and there are reports that four policemen and one protester have been injured.

Police in France say seven Kurdish activists have occupied the Kenyan embassy in Paris. The Kenyan ambassador has said 10 members of his staff are still inside the building.

Police have reported to have taken up positions around the embassy.

Belgium

Around 50 Kurdish demonstrators occupied the Greek embassy at 0530 GMT and doused themselves in gasoline.

A spokesman said the group threatened to set themselves on fire if police try to drive them out.

One of the activists expressed disbelief about Turkey's announcement that Mr Ocalan had been captured.

"They (Turkish officials) want us to believe that.There is going to be a war in Europe and there are going to be a lot of dead people," she is quoted as saying.

Denmark

Some 50 protesters were arrested as they tried to storm the Greek embassy in Copenhagen.

One Kurdish woman was seriously injured when she doused herself with petrol and set herself on fire.



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