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World - Europe

Netanyahu: Israeli guards acted in self-defense against Kurds

Protests around the world:
See the scenes from Tuesday

CNN's Peter Humi reports on the protests in France
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CNN's Richard Blystone reports on Tuesday's violent protests across Europe
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CNN's Margaret Lowrie interviews Ocalan supporters in London
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CNN's Nic Robertson reports from London on the Kurdish demonstrations across Europe on Tuesday
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Father proud of Kurdish girl who torched self in protest

Kurdish protests prompt U.S. global travel warning

Turks jubilant over Ocalan's capture

Chronology of the Ocalan affair

Profile: Ocalan inspires loyalty, hate

February 17, 1999
Web posted at: 4:10 p.m. EST (2110 GMT)

In this story:

Israel, Kenya close their embassies

Kurds leave U.N. building in Geneva

Status of other Kurdish protests


BERLIN (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israeli guards acted in self-defense when dozens of Kurds tried to storm Israel's consulate in Berlin, resulting in the shooting deaths of three Kurdish protesters.

The first demonstrator was killed when he tried to wrest a weapon from an Israeli guard, Netanyahu said. He did not specify that the other two were killed by Israeli fire.

Netanyahu said the guards fired their weapons when dozens of protesters stormed the consulate with hammers and clubs, taking one woman hostage. German authorities later negotiated her release.

"Our people have standing orders to prevent, with force if necessary -- including by opening fire -- any attempt to take hostages and to defend themselves," Netanyahu told a news conference in Jerusalem.

The demonstrators had gathered outside the Israeli consulate because they believed Israeli security forces may have been involved in Monday's capture of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan. The Israeli government has vehemently denied any involvement in Ocalan's capture.

"We are sorry when lives are lost but we are committed to protecting Israeli citizens wherever they may be and Israeli facilities anywhere in the world," Netanyahu said.

Israel, Kenya close their embassies

Berlin police spokesman Norbert Gunkel told CNN that 17 people were injured in the clash. He said he did not know if all the injured were Kurds. Witnesses said an 11-year-old boy was among those hurt.

Demonstrations began Tuesday across Europe following Ocalan's arrest in Kenya. The Kurdish activist was later delivered to Turkey for trial on capital charges of terrorism.

Guards outside the Israeli consulate in Berlin, where three Kurdish protesters were shot to death  

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

Following Wednesday's shootings, Israel announced that it was closing all of its diplomatic missions in Europe for the remainder of the day. Kenya also had ordered its embassies closed.

Kurds leave U.N. building in Geneva

As a result of the violence, U.S. officials cautioned its citizens traveling abroad that the protests could target American interests. The violent European protests had diminished somewhat Wednesday, but fresh demonstrations continued to break out sporadically.

In Geneva, Kurdish protesters who stormed the U.N. refugee agency's world headquarters left the building after about three hours. Up to 20 people forced their way into the building housing the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees while dozens more chanted pro-Ocalan slogans outside.

UNHCR spokesman Chris Janowski told CNN that minor damage had been done by the protesters, and most of the 400-person staff had been evacuated as a precaution.

Also in Geneva, protesters who had occupied the U.N.'s main building peacefully left it Wednesday afternoon.

Status of other Kurdish protests on Wednesday

  • The Hague, Netherlands; Sydney, Australia; Vienna, Austria -- demonstrations ended.

  • Copenhagen, Denmark -- Demonstrators started a fire inside the European Union's offices; 26 people were arrested.

  • London -- Kurds occupied the Greek Embassy, while other protesters gathered outside. The Kurds inside reportedly were on a hunger strike and warned they would set themselves on fire if police stormed the building.

  • Zurich, Switzerland -- About 60 protesters were holding a policeman hostage at the Greek consulate

  • Berne, Switzerland -- The Greek Embassy remained occupied by about 20 demonstrators.

  • Hamburg, Germany -- Kurds were holding a Social Democratic party worker hostage at the party's headquarters and were demanding talks with the ruling party's leaders.

    Berlin Bureau Chief Chris Burns, Jerusalem Bureau Chief Walter Rodgers, correspondents Richard Blystone and Hugh Williams and Reuters contributed to this report.

    Post your opinion on the Kurdish issue

    Kurds seize embassies, wage violent protests across Europe
    February 16, 1999
    Arrest of Kurd rebel chief draws Turkish joy, Kurdish rage
    February 16, 1999
    Turks jubilant over Ocalan's capture
    February 16, 1999
    Profile: Ocalan inspires loyalty, hate
    February 16, 1999
    Kurd stages "human torch" protest in Athens
    February 15, 1999

    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
    Kurdish Information Network
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