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Turks and Kurds march for peace in Istanbul

By Yesim Comert and Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We are here to raise our voices against war," says a marcher
  • Ethnic tensions have been on the rise in Turkey
  • 13 Turkish soldiers were killed by Kurdish separatist group PKK last week

Istanbul (CNN) -- About a thousand Turks and Kurds demonstrated in central Istanbul on Thursday, calling for peace and an end to Turkey's longstanding Kurdish problem.

Ethnic tensions have been on the rise in Turkey since last Thursday, when 13 Turkish soldiers were killed by Kurdish separatist group PKK in Diyarbakir province, in southeast Turkey.

Following the incident, protests condemning the attack broke out on the streets of some of Turkey's major cities. One day after the soldiers were killed, a prominent Kurdish singer, Aynur Dogan, was booed off the stage during a concert in Istanbul.

On Thursday, as protesters marched along Istanbul's Istiklal Street, they chanted slogans in support of Dogan, such as, "To the stage, to the stage, Aynur Dogan to the stage."

At the end of the peaceful protest, which lasted about an hour and a half, demonstrators danced and then sang Dogan's most popular song, "Kece Kurdan" ("Kurdish Girl").

"We are here to raise our voice against war, to support peace and to show our support for the Kurdish people," said Efe Altinal, one of the demonstrators.

The Turkish state has been fighting the PKK -- Kurdistan Workers' Party -- since the early 1980s. More than 30,000 people have been killed during the conflict.

 
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