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World - Europe

Irate Kurds protest across Europe over Ocalan's arrest

Kurds holding hostages in The Hague, Netherlands -- including the Greek ambassador's wife and son -- hang banners and wave flags from the balcony of the ambassador's residence

Video and Audio
CNN's Nic Robertson takes a closer look at the protest across Europe
Windows Media 28K 80K
CNN's Richard Blystone reports from London on negotiations with Kurdish protestors...
  AIFF or WAV (128K/ 25 sec)
CNN's Peter Humi describes the occupation of the Kenyan Embassy in Paris...
  AIFF or WAV (266K/ 15 sec)
Banu Guyen of NTV in Istanbul reports that Ocalan's arrest was a secret operation...
  AIFF or WAV (329K/ 30 sec)

Kurdish rebel leader snatched in clandestine operation
Profile: Ocalan inspires loyalty, hate

February 16, 1999
Web posted at: 10:12 a.m. EST (1512 GMT)

(CNN) -- Angry Kurdish protesters took hostages and set fires Tuesday as they stormed embassies and consulates from London to Moscow, protesting the arrest of Kurdish activist Abdullah Ocalan.

Kurdish demonstrators burst into the Greek and Kenyan embassies early Tuesday in Vienna, Austria, and took five hostages at the Greek mission, including the ambassador.

Kurds at the Kenyan Embassy threatened to set it on fire if their demands for talks aren't met.

At the Greek Embassy, Ambassador Ioannis Yennimatas and his wife were reportedly unhurt, and were in telephone contact with visiting Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos and Austrian President Thomas Klestil.

Ocalan, wanted on terrorism charges in Turkey, reportedly was handed over to Kenyan authorities Monday after seeking refuge at the Greek Embassy in Nairobi. Kenyan police then handed the Kurdish leader over to Turkish authorities.

Ocalan heads the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a 15-year war for autonomy from Turkey.

In Washington, the administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton called on the Kurds to release their hostages and lay down their arms.

'It is purely a political affair'

At The Hague, about 150 Kurds entered the Greek ambassador's residence and took three hostages, including the ambassador's wife and 8-year-old son. The ambassador was not home at the time. Police stopped a separate group of about 100 Kurds trying to reach the residence, arresting many of the demonstrators.

In London, protesters took over the Greek Embassy and threatened to burn themselves to death. They demanded Ocalan's release and blamed Western governments for the plight of Turkey's Kurdish minority. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the embassy.

Russian police arrested 49 protesters who occupied the Greek embassy for 2 1/2 hours Tuesday. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov condemned the takeover, but police officials said the detainees were likely to be freed without facing charges.

"It is purely a political affair," a police spokesman said.

Protests erupted throughout Switzerland. In Geneva, 30 to 40 protesters occupied the main United Nations building, and in Zurich and Berne, demonstrators occupied Greek diplomatic buildings.

In France, several people were injured when police in Strasbourg forced about 30 demonstrators out of the Greek consulate. Another 20 Kurds were arrested in Paris trying to enter the Greek Embassy.

Other protests:

  • Brussels, Belgium -- Protesters occupying the Greek Embassy threatened to burn themselves to death if any attempt were made to remove them.

  • Marseilles, France -- Several dozen demonstrators occupying the Greek consulate threatened to burn themselves. Two people were injured.

  • Frankfurt, Germany -- 50 activists stormed the Greek mission demanding a meeting with the consul.

  • Dusseldorf, Germany -- 300 protesters occupied the Greek consulate. About 30 were arrested.

  • Stuttgart, Germany -- Police stormed the occupied Greek consulate, arresting 14 Kurdish protesters.

  • Copenhagen, Denmark -- 48 pro-Kurdish protesters were arrested, trying to force their way into the Greek Embassy.

CNN Correspondents Peter Humi, Richard Blystone and Nic Robertson and Reuters contributed to this report.

Kurdistan Workers Party Information
The Republic of Turkey
President of the Turkish Republic
The Center for Kurdish Political Studies
Terrorist acts by the PKK
Turkish Press Review: Daily News
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