One dead as clashes escalate in eastern Turkey

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) – One protester died of gunshot wounds on Monday after clashes with police in eastern Turkey at a demonstration in support of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, hospital sources said.

Hundreds of supporters of the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been protesting across southeast and eastern Turkey since Saturday, alleging mistreatment of Ocalan. Dozens have been arrested.

Clashes between protesters and police intensified on Monday, ahead of a visit by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to Diyarbakir, the region’s largest city.

One man died in hospital after being shot in Dogubeyazit during clashes between police and Kurdish demonstrators, hospital sources said. No further information was immediately available.

The authorities deny any mistreatment of Ocalan, the former leader of the PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. He is serving a life sentence on an island in the Marmara Sea.

Bus services were halted and shops were shuttered in Diyarbakir on Monday after the PKK urged locals to protest against Erdogan’s visit.

Tensions have risen in Turkey’s poor, mostly Kurdish southeast after a series of deadly attacks on soldiers by the PKK. The military has responded by pounding suspected PKK positions inside Turkey and across the border in northern Iraq, where many of the rebels are believed to be based.

Some 40,000 people have died in PKK-related violence since 1984, when the group took up arms to try to carve an ethnic Kurdish homeland out of southeast Turkey.

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