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Washington: Turkish security, protesters clash before Erdogan speech

Turkish security and pro-Kurdish protesters clashed outside of a US think tank on Thursday ahead of a speech there by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

world Updated: Mar 31, 2016 23:16 IST
Turkish security personnel struggle to take a sign away from protesters in front of the Brookings Institute before the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Washington.
Turkish security personnel struggle to take a sign away from protesters in front of the Brookings Institute before the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Washington.(REUTERS)

Turkish security and pro-Kurdish protesters clashed outside of a US think tank on Thursday ahead of a speech there by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan was in Washington to attend a major nuclear security summit hosted by President Barack Obama and was giving a speech at the Brookings Institution.

Scuffles erupted as Turkish security moved to clear out about 40 protesters who had gathered outside the building carrying banners of Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and chanting “Erdogan baby killer”.

A small pro-Turkish counter-demonstration also turned up at the scene, with one banner reading, “No difference between PKK and ISIS,” referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Islamic State group.

A reporter with US media outlet National Public Radio was kicked by Turkish security during the scuffle while other agents grabbed one of the effigies and ripped it up.

About 20 Washington police officers tried to separate the two sides.

Inside the event, Erdogan’s security agents tried to remove at least one US-based Turkish journalist from the room but Brookings staff intervened and he was allowed to stay.

Turkey categorises the PYD as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurrection against the Turkish state.