Kurdish protesters clash with police over activists’ trial

Turkish police used water cannon and tear gas yesterday to disperse dozens of Kurdish youths hurling petrol bombs and stones after a demonstration in downtown Istanbul, an AFP photographer said.

The unrest erupted after about 2,000 people marched through Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul’s main pedestrian area, to denounce the trial of some 150 Kurdish activists on charges of links to separatist rebels, under way since October.

As the march ended and the crowd began to disperse, some 200 youths – many with their faces wrapped in scarves – launched a hail of stones at nearby buses, despite fellow demonstrators’ attempts to stop them.

The security forces responded with tear gas and water cannon, chasing the group into side streets.

A Molotov cocktail hurled by protesters set ablaze a firefighting vehicle, which was badly damaged.

Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, is home to a sizeable Kurdish migrant community from the southeast, where Kurdish rebels have waged a bloody separatist campaign since 1984.

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