- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2008

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Hundreds of Kurdish protesters lobbed stones at police and soldiers today in southeastern Turkey in a fourth straight day of clashes that have killed two people and injured dozens.

In Istanbul, tens of thousands of Kurds celebrated the Nowruz festival, some using the spring festivities to rally for Kurdish autonomy.

In Yuksekova, in Hakkari province, police broke up a crowd of protesters throwing stones at officers by firing into the air and using tear gas and truncheons, the private Dogan news agency said. The military also deployed commando units in the streets of Yuksekova and police armored carriers blocked some roads, Dogan said.

Later, a small bomb explosion slightly injured three police officers, Dogan said.

A Kurdish demonstrator was shot to death today and a police officer was injured, hospital officials said. Almost all shops were closed and residents fled to their homes, Dogan said.

The demonstrators — mostly members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society party, which faces closure for alleged ties to Kurdish rebels — were protesting the death of a Kurd who died early today after being shot during clashes with police a day earlier in the city of Van, local authorities said.

Police broke up the protest after the demonstrators chanted illegal slogans in support of Kurdish guerrillas and of imprisoned rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan, private NTV television said.

Police also used water cannons to disperse small groups who set up barricades in back streets while soldiers responded to stone-throwing protesters with truncheons, Dogan said.

The soldiers marched back to their barracks after the incidents, shouting slogans to stress their readiness to defend the country, Dogan said. But tension was still running high in the town, it said.

Kurdish rebels have been fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s southeast since 1984, a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.

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