Erdogan supporters, opponents clash near Turkish embassy

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Erdogan supporters, opponents clash near Turkish embassy

Brussels, Mar 31 (AFP) Several people were injured in “serious incidents” in front of the Turkish consulate in Brussels between supporters and opponents of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Belgian police has said.

“Serious incidents broke out between supporters and opponents of the Turkish regime, on a public road, outside the consulate of Turkey,” Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse van de Keere told AFP yesterday.

“Many people were injured” and taken to hospital, she added, without giving details on the number of people or on the state of their injuries, saying the situation was “sensitive”.

The incident occurred on the third day that Turkish voters in Belgium are allowed to cast early ballots for a referendum that could vastly boost Erdogan’s powers.

Turkish voters in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany and Switzerland can also cast their ballots for the next two weeks, until April 9.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, in a tweet, condemned the violence saying his government has “zero tolerance” for such incidents linked to the Turkish referendum.

Around 100 people remained in front of the consulate at 10.00 PM but police had managed to separate the rival camps and the situation was said to be under control.

The Brussels prosecutor’s office was investigating the incident.

According to the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency, three people of Kurdish origin arriving to vote on the referendum were stabbed in incidents provoked by supporters of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The Kurdish community organisation NavBel said a 60-year-old woman was among those attacked and was seriously wounded.

One of the four attackers fled into the embassy building but was later arrested, NavBel said in a statement cited by the Belga press agency.

Turkey will vote on April 16 on the proposal to create an executive presidency and abolish the post of prime minister.

Relations have strained between Europe and Turkey — especially with the Netherlands and Germany — after Turkish ministers were blocked from speaking to their citizens in those countries.

Western nations have also voiced concern about the planned changes, and about a crackdown in Turkey in the aftermath of a failed coup last July that has seen thousands of people arrested or fired from their posts. (AFP) EMY

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.