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Story highlights

"We should throw the Turkish ambassador out of the country," McCain said

The US State Department told CNN that it is working closely with local authorities about the incident

(CNN) —  

Sen. John McCain called for the Turkish ambassador to the US to be thrown out of the country on Thursday amid growing anger over the violent beating of protesters that took place outside of the Turkish embassy in Washington earlier this week.

“We should throw the Turkish ambassador out of the country, we should identify those people that performed these unlawful acts of beating people up and they should be charged,” McCain told reporters.

Both the US State Department and law enforcement sources have said that Turkish security officials were involved in Tuesday’s assault of protesters who were demonstrating against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outside the residence of Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kılıç.

The bloody brawl sent nine to the hospital and Turkish security officials were seen coming out of the ambassador’s residence, then retreating to the residence grounds, a law enforcement official said, adding that the same scenario played out more than once.

The State Department told CNN that it is “working closely with the local authorities concerning this incident,” but declined further comment as the investigation is ongoing.

A State Department official said the Turkish security that was involved appears to be a mix of Turkish embassy and Erdogan security staff.

“Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest,” a US State Department statement on Wednesday said. “We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms.”

The Turkish embassy claimed the groups that assembled were “affiliated with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party)” without permission and “began aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the President,” according to a statement released late Wednesday.

“The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense,” the statement from the Turkish embassy said, adding “We hope that, in the future, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that similar provocative actions causing harm and violence do not occur.”

CNN’s Elise Labott contributed to this report.