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Violent Clash Erupts In Tokyo Between Turks, Kurds Ahead Of Turkey's Election

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 26/10/2015 Nick Visser
ATHENA IMAGE © TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

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The tension between Turks and Kurds reached a boiling point ahead of Turkey's nationwide elections, proving the animosity between factions extends far beyond the country's borders.

Nearly a dozen people were injured outside of the Turkish embassy in Tokyo after hundreds of expatriates gathered for early voting. The Japan Times reported a skirmish began a few hours before polls were due open at 9 a.m. local time.

Japanese police said more than 600 people were gathered at the riot, which continued to 11 in the morning. The violent incident was broken up by law enforcement officers wielding batons and riot shields.


ImageContent(562dadbbe4b0aac0b8fd4f94,562daa941400001b013c914b,Image,HectorAssetUrl(562daa941400001b013c914b.jpeg,Some(),Some(jpeg)),Credit: Toshifumi Kitamura/Getty,Riot police officers stand guard in front of the Turkish embassy in Tokyo on October 25, 2015.)

It's unclear what started the fighting, but some outlets report pro-Kurdish supporters were waving flags at the embassy.

There's been an explosion in tension throughout Turkey after a ceasefire expired between Turkey and the Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK) earlier this year. Turkey has launched several airstrikes against PKK sites in what The New York Times has called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "war against the Kurds."

Erdogan -- a longtime benefactor of the Kurdish minority, which makes up some 18 percent of the population -- saw his party lose its governing majority in June after the Kurds joined forces with the opposing People's Democratic Party.

The Kurds have been instrumental in the fight against the Islamic State. But leading Turkish officials worry any action against ISIS will help clear the way for the ethnic minority to secure a long-sought independent state.

Turkey's election will be held Nov. 1. 

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