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06 04 04 - DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - A three-year-old child killed by a stray bullet ....
> 31/3/2006
> Children among dead in Turkey clashes, EU worried
> Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:18 PM ET
> By Daren Butler
> DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - A three-year-old child killed by a stray bullet raised to seven on Friday the death toll from days of clashes
between riot police and Kurdish protesters in Turkey's troubled southeast, Turkish media said.
> In a separate incident highlighting the tensions ravaging the impoverished, mainly Kurdish region, security forces said they had killed seven guerrillas of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), two of them women, in rural Sirnak province.
> The European Union, which Turkey aims to join, expressed concern about the violence and urged Ankara to do more to combat poverty in the southeast
and to boost Kurds' cultural rights.
> In Diyarbakir, the main city of the southeast which this week has seen its worst civil unrest in decades, lines of riot police in full body armor and helmets held automatic rifles as small groups of protesters chanted slogans.
> Earlier, dozens of youths burned tires and threw stones at security forces for a fourth consecutive day, though violence was subdued compared to the
> running battles of previous days.
> "It has calmed down for now but the situation could explode again at any moment," said Mehmet, 26. Like most local people, he preferred not to give a surname.
> Shopkeeper Ahmet, 35, said: "The state has provoked this... People have grabbed their weapons again because nothing has been done to bring peace to the region."
> Turkey's southeast suffers high unemployment and many Kurds want political autonomy and more cultural freedoms. They feel the Turkish state is hostile
> to them and express sympathy for the PKK, branded by Ankara, the EU and Washington as a terrorist group.
> The clashes first erupted on Tuesday after funeral ceremonies for 14 PKK members killed by troops last weekend.
> Separately, an explosion killed one person and injured five others near a bus station in an historic area of Istanbul on Friday. No one has claimed
responsibility for the blast.
> Turkish NTV television said Fatih Tekin, 3, died while playing on Friday in the town of Batman to the east of Diyarbakir. It said he was killed after police fired into the air to disperse protesters, but gave no details.
> Officials confirmed a child had died of gunshot wounds, but police had no immediate comment on the circumstances cited by NTV.
> Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir said two other people had died in clashes in his city, but he gave no details.
> Most shops and offices reopened for the first time in days.
> A man and a child were shot dead on Wednesday and a second man was crushed under a police armored car in Diyarbakir. A second child, aged 8, died overnight in a Diyarbakir hospital and was buried swiftly to avoid
> triggering further riots.
> Shopkeepers in Diyarbakir, a city of nearly a million people, said they had been closed previously because of threats.
> They did not say who made the threats but Turkish officials say the PKK is behind the riots and wants to foster a climate of fear and chaos.
> "For three days, we could not open. Those who did closed again after receiving threats. But today we opened. Nobody has threatened us ... We hope
> there will be no more threats," said one tradesman, speaking on condition of anonymity.
> The EU expressed concern about the situation.
> "We are aware of the serious terrorist problem in the region but it is a much wider problem than just a security issue," EU Commission spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy said.
> "The region needs peace, economic development and real exercise of cultural rights for Kurds," Nagy added.
> Ankara has lifted restrictions on the Kurdish language and culture in EU-linked reforms over the past few years, but critics say it needs to do
> much more.
> Turkish government ministers praised the security forces' handling of the riots, saying they had acted with restraint. They accused the PKK and its supporters of deliberately using children in the protests in order to win sympathy.
> Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu said during a visit to Diyarbakir the violence -- which has also targeted banks and shopping centers -- would
> deter badly needed investment.
> NTV television said police had arrested 79 people in the clashes so far after detaining more than 200.
> Ankara sees the PKK as a terrorist group wholly responsible for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since it launched its armed campaign for an
> ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984. But many Kurds view the PKK sympathetically.
(Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander in Brussels)
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