Kurds again rally in Germany after violent clashes

Kurds again rally in Germany after violent clashes
German riot police stand guard during a demonstration by Kurdish protesters

BERLIN - Over 1,000 Kurds again took to German streets overnight, watched by riot police, a day after 23 people were hurt in clashes between Kurds and radical Muslims, police said Thursday.

In the latest protests in the northern port city of Hamburg, police confiscated weapons including machetes, baseball bats and one gun but managed to avoid large-scale confrontations.

Protesters in sporadic clashes against groups of fundamentalist Muslims hurled rocks and bottles, and one person was hospitalised after being hit on the head by a projectile.

Germany's police union meanwhile voiced concern over the violence Tuesday night in Hamburg and the northern city of Celle that left 23 people wounded, four seriously.

It said targeted attacks from people "armed to the teeth" against law enforcement personnel had placed officers "in lethal danger" and warned of "the threat of a proxy war on German soil".

The wave of rallies started with solidarity demonstrations with Kurds trapped in the northern Syrian city of Kobane where they are besieged by Islamic State (IS) jihadist militants.

Many Kurds have been infuriated by the lack of action against IS by Turkey, which fears the Kobane standoff could lead to the creation of a Kurdish fighting force overlapping the border.

Some Hamburg protesters demanded the release from Turkish jail of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which fought a three-decade insurgency against Ankara.

Concern has grown in Berlin about a spillover of the tensions to Germany, which is home to about three million people with Turkish roots and an estimated one million ethnic Kurds.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had voiced concern to parliament's foreign affairs committee that NATO-member Turkey's reluctance to join the fight against IS could impact security in Germany, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported, without quoting her directly.

Chemnitz daily the Freie Presse commented that the ugly scenes on German streets "have given a taste of what can happen if Germany keeps looking on as Ankara manoeuvres back and forth between the old enemy, Kurdish autonomy, and the new one, Islamism".

"The distrust of Kurdish people against Germany is growing," it said.

"The heated conflict between Turkish and Kurdish extremists has shifted to German streets."

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