Europe

Turkey killing: Thousands mourn pro-Kurdish lawyer Tahir Elci

Mr Elci's coffin is carried through massive crowds, draped in the red, yellow and green Kurdish flag Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thousands of people gathered as Mr Elci's casket was carried through the streets

Thousands of people have attended the funeral of a leading pro-Kurdish human rights lawyer who was shot dead in Turkey's south-eastern city of Diyarbakir.

Tahir Elci was killed on Saturday as he made an appeal for peace between the security forces and Kurdish rebels.

His death sparked instant protests across Turkey.

Crowds chanted "the martyr does not die" as his coffin was carried through the streets of Diyarbakir.

Mr Elci was killed in a gun battle between police and unidentified gunmen. Two police officers also died.

It is not yet clear whether he was caught in crossfire or the victim of a planned assassination.

Thousands of people mourned as his casket, draped in the red, yellow and green Kurdish flag and covered with red coronations, was carried through the streets.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The crowd gathered behind a huge black banner that read: "We will never forget you"

On Saturday Turkish police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse hundreds of people in Istanbul who were protesting against the killing.

The incident also sparked protests in Ankara, Izmir and Diyarbakir and a curfew has been imposed in the district where Mr Elci was shot.

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Media captionAfter Tahir Elci was killed, a gun battle erupted between police and unidentified gunmen - Mark Lowen reports.

Mr Elci, who was head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, had previously been detained and received death threats after saying the separatist PKK should not be regarded as a terrorist organisation.

In July violence resumed in the conflict between the army and the PKK after a ceasefire collapsed. Dozens have been killed in violent clashes since.

Moments before he was shot, Mr Elci said: "We do not want guns, clashes and operations here."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Elci had been calling on both sides to pull back from the conflict

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has pledged to bring Mr Elci's killers to justice.

The BBC's Mark Lowen in Turkey says government supporters are blaming the PKK for the attack while opponents blame Turkish nationalists and talk of a "planned assassination".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was saddened by the death of Mr Elci.

"This incident shows how Turkey is right in its determination in the fight against terrorism," he said.

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