39 detained in northwest Turkey after riots

July 27

Local officials said Monday 39 people had been detained after family conflicts escalated into riots in northwest Turkey overnight, Turkish media reported.

A fight broke out between two groups after three people were alleged to have stabbed six others in a coffee house in the city of Inegol in Bursa province and the conflict worsened after police detained the three suspects, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported on its website.

Local people gathered in front of the hospital where the victims of the stabbing incident stayed, demanding the suspects be handed over to them as they heard one of the families had a Kurdish background, the newspaper said, citing private news channel NTVMSNBC.

The crowd swelled to 1,000 people and violence erupted as some started to set fire to police vehicles and damage other properties, injuring 10 police officers, the report said.

Gendarmerie and police units were called in from the provincial capital of Bursa, but the rioting continued till Monday morning after police frequently opened fire into the air, it said.

Altogether 39 people were detained and sent to Bursa, the newspaper quoted Bursa Governor Sahabettin Harput as saying.

In a statement early Monday, Harput said it was sad that an ordinary security situation was provocatively interpreted as being caused primarily by ethnic differences.

Interior Minister Becir Atalay said Monday inspectors and intelligence units had been sent to the city to investigate the causes behind the riot, according to the report.

As Turkey’s biggest ethnic minority group, Kurds have been complaining about scant cultural rights and harsh treatment by security forces.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced a reform plan in July to expand rights for the Kurdish minority and end decades of the armed conflict between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

The plan included such moves as removing restrictions on Kurdish language use and establishing a national mechanism to prevent torture.

Listed as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, the United States and the European Union, the PKK took up arms in 1984 in order to create an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey.

Some 40,000 people have been killed in conflicts involving the PKK for the past over two decades.

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