00:46 GMT +319 November 2019
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    Norwegian Police Use Tear Gas as Kurds and Turks Clash in Oslo

    © AFP 2019 / ODD ANDERSEN
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    Despite numerous warnings about potential clashes, the Norwegian authorities agreed to hold Turkish and Kurdish demonstrations two hours apart from one another.

    Pro- and anti-Turkish demonstrations in the Norwegian capital have devolved into a mass brawl. The police had to use tear gas to regain control over the situation, as a shop in central Oslo was completely demolished during protests on Saturday. Extensive damage was reported to cars and buses.

    Seven people were arrested, but subsequently released. Some of them may later be summoned for further questioning, the police said. At least two people were injured, but were treated on the spot. Another person was reportedly hit by a car in connection with the demonstration.

    ​The clashes that ravaged the Norwegian capital for several hours began with two demonstrations outside the Turkish Embassy near Solli Square, by supporters and critics of Turkey's Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria respectively.

    At 1 p.m., a pro-Turkish demonstration in support of Ankara started. At 3 p.m., a Kurdish demonstration protesting Ankara's offensive in northern Syria, ensued.

    “It ended in a brawl between quite a few people”, Oslo police chief Gjermund Stokkli told national broadcaster NRK.

    An eyewitness to the mass brawl claimed it was initiated by Turkish youths.

    “What I saw was a group of Kurdish protesters were on their way to the embassy, and then a group of Turkish youths with a Turkish flag attacked the Kurdish families with children. Then the parents were provoked and had to defend themselves, but the Turks kept attacking. A fight broke out. I was in the car when I saw this”, an eyewitness told NRK.

    ​While the troubled relations between the Turks and the Kurds are not unknown, the riots in central Oslo came as a surprise to the Norwegian police.

    “This was improvised and happened many hours after the demonstration was over. We were not sized for that type of violence”, Johan Fredriksen, the head of Joint Unit for Operational Service, told NRK. “Opponents often want to demonstrate at the same time. <...> We are careful not to discriminate between groups”, he added. “We managed to resolve the situation without people being seriously injured, and that is the most important thing. But we do not want these kinds of scenes in our city”, Frederiksen concluded.

    One of the organisers stressed that he had warned the authorities that there would be violent clashes almost a week before the demonstration.

    “We have been talking to the police since Monday and warning against this. We said that this would be a disaster”, Andam Aziz, a spokesperson for the Kurdish youth organisation UngKurd told NRK.

    Kurds and Turks earlier clashed in several European nations, including Germany and Denmark, most recently in the aftermath of Turkey's offensive against what it called terrorists in northeastern Syria, which is dominated by Kurds and sometimes referred to as Rojava.

    Following talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayip Erdogan, a Russian-Turkish memorandum stipulating a withdrawal of Kurdish militias to a distance of 30 kilometres from the border with Turkey was signed.


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