Posted November 29, 2015 ten:18:09

A leading Kurdish lawyer has been shot dead in south-east Turkey right after unknown attackers opened fire on a gathering in the primarily Kurdish province of Diyarbakir, neighborhood officials say.

The unknown assailants shot at Tahir Elci, head of the bar association in Diyarbakir, and 40 other activists as they were providing a press statement close to a mosque in the city’s Sur district, according to witnesses.

The police right away returned fire, they said.

South-east Turkey has been rocked by a new wave of unrest that has left many hundred individuals dead because a two-year-old truce in between Ankara and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fell apart in July.

Elci, who had been detained in October for alleged “terrorist propaganda” on behalf of the PKK, died at the scene of gunshot wounds, hospital sources told AFP.

Diyarbakir governor’s office said that one particular policeman was also killed and two police have been injured in the shootout.

“Elci lost his life throughout clashes that erupted at the identical place,” the statement said.

A hunt for the attackers was beneath way whilst clashes had been continuing all through the Sur district, where authorities have declared a curfew, an AFP correspondent reported.

State-run Anatolia news agency claimed that members of the PKK had been behind the incident, while the Dogan news agency, quoting witnesses, stated a bearded man had opened fire on the group.

In video footage released by Dogan, a man hiding behind the minaret of the mosque is seen shooting at Elci, 49.

Considering that June there have been three deadly attacks on pro-Kurdish activists blamed on the Islamic State (IS), like the October 10 suicide bombings at a peace rally in Ankara that killed 103.

Speaking right after the incident in western Balikesir province, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated he was saddened by the death of Elci.

“This incident shows how Turkey is proper in its determination in the fight against terrorism,” he stated.

Elci was released pending his trial more than an interview in which he mentioned the PKK, which has killed dozens of Turkish soldiers since the resumption of hostilities, was not a terrorist organisation.

“The PKK is a political movement which has critical political demands and which enjoys widespread help, even if some of its actions are of a terrorist nature,” he had told CNN Turk tv, sparking anger.

He had risked up to seven years in prison.

The separatist PKK, which launched an uprising against the Turkish state in 1984, is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, Australia, the United States, the European Union and a number of other countries.

The government began peace talks in 2012 with the imprisoned head of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, but the negotiations fell via in the run-up to the basic election in June.

Ankara unleashed a new air war against PKK rebels following a wave of attacks blamed on the group, destroying a 2013 truce and hopes of fresh talks to finish a conflict that has claimed 45,000 lives since 1984.

Since then, Kurdish fighters have staged nearly daily attacks against members of the safety forces, killing much more than 150 Turkish police and soldiers.

Kurds accuse his government of collaborating with the IS group, but Ankara denies the charges and has lately stepped up raids against IS suspects.

Crowds gather in the streets of Diyarbakir. Photo: Folks collect outdoors a hospital morgue right after Kurdish lawyer Tahir Elci was killed. (AFP: Ilyas Akengin)


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