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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 April 2006, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Turkey warns children off clashes
A Kurdish boy waves a baton during protests in Diyarbakir, Turkey
Three children aged under nine have died in clashes with riot police
Turkey's prime minister has warned that the security forces will act against women and children who he said were being used as the "pawns of terrorism".

Three children are among eight people to have died in several days of clashes between Kurds and riot police.

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parents they should not let their children become involved in street protests.

Police fired tear gas to disperse Kurdish protesters on Saturday as more violence erupted in the south-east.

In the town of Kiziltepe, thousands of protesters throwing stones and petrol bombs set fire to at least one bank and the local headquarters of the prime minister's party.

Police also clashed with demonstrators in Silopi, near the border with Iraq, and in nearby Yuksekova, the state-owned Anatolia news agency reported.

Gunshot wounds

The protests in the mainly Kurdish south-east of Turkey began after the funerals of 14 suspected Kurdish rebels killed by the military last weekend.

If you cry tomorrow, it will be in vain
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Children aged nine, seven and three are among those to have been killed in clashes around the provincial capital, Diyarbakir, two of them from gunshot wounds.

Mr Erdogan urged parents not to allow their children to be used by what he described as terrorist organisations.

"If you cry tomorrow, it will be in vain," Anatolia quoted him as saying.

"The security forces will intervene against the pawns of terrorism, no matter if they are children or women. Everybody should realise that."

His government has praised the security forces for their handling of the situation, saying they have acted with restraint.

Ministers have accused Turkish separatist groups of deliberately using children in the protests in order to win sympathy.

Meanwhile, one person was killed and 13 hurt in a bomb attack in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, on Friday.

The bombing was claimed by a Kurdish separatist group, the TAK, which said it was acting in response to the recent violence.

Both the European Union and the United Nations have expressed concern over rising tensions.

The EU has urged the Turkish government to improve the cultural rights of Kurds and to develop the region's economy.


SEE ALSO:
Kurd unrest escalates in Turkey
30 Mar 06 |  Europe
Timeline: Turkey
03 Jul 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Turkey
03 Jul 05 |  Country profiles


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