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Ethnic fight cause eight wounded in mid-western Turkey

ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires | 7/27/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Eight people were injured Wednesday in a fight that erupted between seasonal agricultural laborers from eastern Turkey and local workers in the district of Mihalıççık in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir.

Eight people were injured Wednesday in a fight that erupted between seasonal agricultural laborers from eastern Turkey and local workers in the district of Mihalıççık in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir.

Two-hundred laborers from the east allegedly intercepted and attacked four buses carrying local farm workers to prevent them from working in the same fields at about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, according to claims.

“We requested reinforcements from Eskişehir. The incident is under our control at the current moment. There is nothing here to be blown out of proportion. Five people alleged to have been involved in the incident have been taken into custody,” Anatolia news agency reported Mihalıççık District Gov. Zekeriya Göker as saying.

The conflagration began after eastern workers allegedly told local laborers that they would no longer gather cherries in the area, Doğan news agency, or DHA, reported. After quarreling, the workers from the east reportedly began throwing stones at the buses. Two brothers from the area, Osman Çay and Yaşar Çay, were stabbed, while another six workers were injured. The injured workers were taken to Mihalıççık State Hospital, while the brothers were later transferred to Eskişehir State Hospital.

The local workers then headed back to the district with their buses and arrived in front of the gendarmerie command and the adjacent police headquarters. Locals in the district who learned of the event gathered in support of the Mihalıççık workers and began waving a Turkish flag and singing the national anthem, while demanding that the eastern workers be expelled from the district.

Göker and Mayor Ümit Güven of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, also arrived at the scene and urged protesters to keep calm, providing assurances that measures would be taken within a legal framework. The crowd then began to disperse.

The incident comes only days after a series of ethnically charged clashes erupted in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district. Organized attacks were conducted against citizens of Kurdish origin and buildings of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, in Zeytinburnu between July 18 and 22. The clashes erupted in the wake of the July 14 killing of 13 soldiers by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK, when supporters of the outlawed group held a small rally in the Istanbul neighborhood. Hundreds of residents confronted those rallying, after which Kurds living in the district claimed their houses and workplaces were targeted.

In response, the police took 70 people into custody on allegations that they incited people against Kurdish citizens.

The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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