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Pro-Kurdish riots grip southern Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Pro-Kurdish demonstrators clashed with riot police in southeast Turkey following an uproar over the arrest of backers of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party.

Turkish authorities last week arrested seven mayors and scores of other Kurds because prosecutors said they were linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, considered a terrorist organization by Ankara and several other nations.

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Kurdish protesters during the weekend threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police in Istanbul and in the Kurdish south of the country in reaction to the arrests, Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper reports.

Police responded with tear gas and water cannons, wounding several in the melee.

Southern Turkey erupted in violence following a mid-December decision by a Turkish court to outlaw the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, because of alleged ties to the PKK.

Ankara had embraced democratic measures to find a political resolution to lingering tensions with the minority Kurdish community through a series of cultural concessions.

The DTP closure, however, provoked outrage across the country. Ankara said the reaction did little to advance reconciliation, vowing to continue its fight against pro-Kurdish rebels.

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