DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: Turkish soldiers on Wednesday fired tear gas and water cannon at Kurds protesting plans to build military barracks in the southeast of the country.
Soldiers launched an operation early Wednesday to break up a 12-day sit-in by some 400 protesters in the Lice district of Kurdish majority Diyarbakir province.
Protesters hurled stones and fireworks at the soldiers, an AFP reporter witnessed. Clashes were still ongoing and there were no immediate reports of casualties or arrests.
The demonstrators are against the construction of new army posts in Kurdish majority areas which they see as a threat to a peace process launched in 2012 between government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The local governor’s office in Diyarbakir on Monday called for additional security forces to face what it said was increased activity by the PKK.
The rebels declared a ceasefire in March 2013, but the peace process appeared to stall in September after the Kurdish rebels announced they were suspending their retreat from Turkish soil, accusing the government of failing to deliver on promised reforms.
The PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, launched an insurgency seeking self-rule in the southeast in 1984 that has claimed about 45,000 lives.