Turkish protesters attack US sailors in Istanbul

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Media captionProtesters filmed the attack before posting the video online

Turkish nationalist protesters have assaulted three US sailors in Istanbul, trying to put hoods on them and chanting "Yankees go home".

The protesters, who posted a video of the attack on an ultra-nationalist website, also threw red paint and chased the sailors down a street.

The sailors returned unharmed to their ship, the USS Ross, which was docked nearby, a US military spokesman said.

US officials condemned the attack, but said it appeared to be a one-off event.

Turkish police arrested 12 people in connection with Wednesday's incident, but later released them, local media reported.

The group, members of the nationalist Turkish Youth Union, were told they could still face charges of insult, injury and breaching laws on public protests, the Dogan news agency said.

'Local thugs'

Just before the assault, one of the protesters shouted in English at the sailors: "Because we define you as murderers, as killers, we want you to get out of our land."

The protesters then started throwing objects at the sailors and grabbed hold of at least one of them, briefly pulling a white sack over his head.

Col Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, called the attack "ugly and disturbing".

He described the assailants as "local thugs", saying they brought "great discredit upon the Turks and the Turkish reputation for hospitality".

"We're working closely with Turkish authorities to have this investigated and to get to the bottom of exactly what happened," he said.

The Turkish foreign ministry also condemned the attack, calling it "in no way tolerable".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The sailors had come ashore from the USS Ross

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