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Monday, March 22, 1999 Published at 00:14 GMT


World: Europe

Violence marks Kurdish New Year

Nawroz has increasingly become a time of protest for Kurds


Chris Morris: "The tension is extremely high"
Violent clashes have taken place in several of Turkey's main cities as Kurdish supporters of the PKK rebel movement try to celebrate the new year festival of Newroz.

There is extremely heavy security in Kurdish areas and human rights activists say up to 4,000 people have been taken into custody.

The Ocalan File
Police and demonstrators exchanged fire at a number of locations in Istanbul.

Several people were wounded, including three police officers, and hundreds of people have been detained.


[ image: Kurdish protests across Europe were sparked by news of the capture of Mr Ocalan]
Kurdish protests across Europe were sparked by news of the capture of Mr Ocalan
Information about violence in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country is harder to come by. Foreign journalists have been banned from the region by the Turkish authorities.

Officials in south-east Turkey suspect sabotage to be the cause of an explosion close to the main oil pipeline between Turkey and Iraq.

Local sources say security is intense with armoured cars and tanks patrolling sensitive areas.

There have been further arrests in a number of towns and cities and the police and the army have apparently moved quickly to prevent any demonstrations from gathering steam.

Germany has asked Ankara for immediate clarification following the arrest of a number of German human rights observers in the south east.

New Year protests

In the last few years Newroz has become a traditional time of protest for disaffected Kurds.

The worst violence took place in 1992, when more than 50 people were killed in clashes with the security forces.

After the arrest last month of the Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, there has been sporadic violent protest in the southeast and in other cities.

The authorities made it clear that they would launch a major security operation during Newroz.





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