Mon, Oct 26, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Twelve injured as Turkish voters head to polls in Tokyo

AFP, TOKYO

At least 12 people were injured in a scuffle between Turks and ethnic Kurds yesterday as hundreds of Turkish citizens gathered at their embassy in Tokyo to vote in a general election, reports said.

TV footage showed police breaking up the fight outside the mission as voting for the Nov. 1 election began early in the Japanese capital.

The injured included two police officers, Tokyo Broadcasting System said, adding that the cause of the fight was not immediately clear.

However, Jiji Press, quoting a Turkish voter, said the clash began after Kurds tried to display the flag of a pro-Kurdish party.

“I was attacked by Turks all of a sudden while I was in a car with my friends,” a Kurdish man whose shirt had been torn off told the broadcaster in front of the embassy, which was heavily guarded by police.

About 3,600 Turkish nationals are resident in Japan, according to the country’s foreign ministry.

The election comes at a time of escalating violence in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, despite a 2013 ceasefire in a three-decade insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The latest act of violence happened on Oct. 10 during a pro-Kurdish rally in the nation’s capital, when a bomb attack killed more than 100 people. Turkish security forces have last week arrested 50 foreign nationals suspected of involvement in the bombing.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the poll after his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its governing majority for the first time in June 7 elections, forcing it into coalition talks that ended in failure.

The AKP won three decisive general election victories in 2002, 2007 and 2011 but was stripped of its overall majority in June after losing support to a pro-Kurdish party.

The result damaged Erdogan’s hopes of creating a powerful US-style presidency with full executive powers.

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