Police use tear gas to disperse curfew protest in southeastern Turkey

Friday 19/02/2016
Civilians are suffering

DIYARBAKIR (Turkey) - Police on Wednesday used tear gas and water cannon to disperse a protest against an almost three-month military operation and curfew in the majority Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey.

The firing of tear gas cannisters filled the air with smoke at the protest in Diyarbakir, whose central Sur district has been under curfew since December 2, a photographer said.

Some protesters threw stones at police while a journalist with the pro-Kurdish Dicle news agency was lightly injured by a tear gas cannister.

Turkish security forces imposed the curfew and began the military operation in a bid to root out Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels from Sur.

According to the military, 234 PKK militants have been killed in Sur during the operation.

Kurdish activists reject these figures and say dozens of civilians have been caught in the crossfire while the area's historical heritage has been hit by irreparable damage.

Meanwhile, the chief of the Turkish general staff Hulusi Akar arrived in Diyarbakir on an unannounced visit to inspect the operation in Sur, the army said.

One Turkish soldier was killed Wednesday in clashes with the PKK, it added.

The operations mark a new escalation in half a year of fighting with the PKK since a two-and-a-half year truce collapsed in July.

The PKK launched a formal insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, initially fighting for Kurdish independence although it now presses more for greater autonomy and rights for the country's largest ethnic minority.

The conflict has left tens of thousands dead.