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Sunday, March 7, 1999 Published at 20:59 GMT

World: Europe

Tight security for Turkish PM's visit

Kurds around the world are continuing their protests

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has been to the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey - the first visit by a senior Turkish politician since the capture last month of the Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

The Ocalan File
About 3,000 police and soldiers are deployed in the city following a warning from Mr Ocalan's PKK rebel movement that anyone who met the prime minister would be punished.

The region is already governed under special emergency regulations and, since the capture of Mr Ocalan, members of the foreign media have been prevented from travelling there.

Investment, but no politics

On his arrival, Mr Ecevit said he wanted to bring peace and prosperity to the southeast.

[ image: Mr Ecevit visits the region promising investment]
Mr Ecevit visits the region promising investment
He described his talks with regional governors about how best to distribute new financial aid as "fruitful and beneficial".

But correspondents say he is not offering political change to the many Kurds who remain disaffected.

Mr Ecevit's trip comes as it emerges that he has written to European leaders urging them to clamp down on the PKK which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in the southeast.

The BBC Correspondent in Ankara, Chris Morris, says that like most politicians in Ankara - and most Turks in general - Mr Ecevit is convinced that poverty and unemployment are the root causes of the Kurdish rebellion.

The state continues to frown on Kurdish political activity.

Turkey's main legal Kurdish political party, Hadep, says its members and local offices are facing constant police pressure in the run-up to next month's general and local elections.

State prosecutors are trying to prevent Hadep participating at all. They allege the party is directly linked to the PKK.

Correspondents say if Hadep do take part it will probably emerge comfortably as the region's biggest party.

'Terrorist acts'

Mr Ecevit's letter to the heads of state of both Nato and European Union countries said: "I wish to strongly urge you to take firm and prompt legal action against any PKK presence on your territory under any guise.''

[ image: Mr Ocalan faces the death penalty]
Mr Ocalan faces the death penalty
It said the PKK was instigating "terrorist acts" from western Europe through publications and the London-based Kurdish television channel, Med-TV, which broadcasts to Turkey.

"It is our firm conviction that the network of violence and organised crime which remains in Europe should be dismantled," Mr Ecevit added.

However, the letter was not sent to Greece, which gave Mr Ocalan shelter at a diplomatic residence in Nairobi before his capture last month.

Mr Ecevit has also announced that police have detained a man suspected of carrying out a bomb attack in the central town of Cankiri on Friday.

Three people were killed and the regional governor, Ayhan Cevik, was seriously wounded.

A radical Maoist group (Tikko) said it planted the bomb in a vehicle that exploded as the governor's car was driving by.

'Helicopter shot down'

As Mr Ecevit toured the southeast, a German-based Kurdish news agency reported that Kurdish rebels had shot down an army helicopter in the southeastern province of Hakkari, killing 20 soldiers.

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