x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Turkish policeman dies a day after being shot in Nowruz clashes

Officer dies after police tried to disperse Kurds staging unauthorised Nowruz celebrations in south-east of the country.

DIYARBAKIR, TURKEY // A police officer died yesterday after being shot in clashes as police tried to disperse Kurds staging unauthorised Nowruz celebrations, a security source said.

The officer was among 24 people who were injured on Tuesday in clashes that erupted across Kurdish-majority south-east when riot police fired water cannon and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the unauthorised demonstrations.

The officer, along with four other officers and a civilian, was wounded in the town of Cizre in Sirnak province on the border with Iraq, the source said.

Three other officers were also shot in Yuksekova town of Hakkari, another border province mostly populated by the ethnic minority.

Turkish authorities rejected a Kurdish demand to mark Nowruz on Sunday, the day of rest in Turkey, designating Wednesday as the only day authorised for celebrations. Called Nowruz in Iran and Central Asia, the festival is celebrated on and around March 21.

On Sunday, thousands of Kurds clashed with police in Istanbul and the southern city of Diyarbakir, leaving nine people injured as security forces tried to stop festivities.

Nowruz celebrations are an opportunity for the Kurdish community to demand more rights and to show support for the Kurdistan Workers Party, considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community.