Published On: Thu, Mar 28th, 2024
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The EU city gripped by wave of violence as shops attacked and youths carry weapons | World | News

A city in the heart of the European Union is engulfed in a “sinister atmosphere” after being caught in the midst of violent clashes between two groups.

Turkish and Kurdish communities in Belgium have been at war with each other since March 24, when a group of Turks attacked Kurds celebrating their New Year’s Eve in Heusden-Zolder.

This prompted the organisation in Brussels of a pro-Kurdish demonstration. However, this march was marred by violence.

On Monday, a café in Cheratte known for being attended by the local Turkish community was attacked, which resulted in the injury of six customers.

Violence moved to the city of Ghent on March 26, where a group of youngsters vandalised a Kurdish café.

Images appeared on social media after the attack showed a person making the sign of the Grey Wolves, an ultra-nationalist Turkish organisation, local news outlet RTBF wrote.

During the night between March 27 and 28, the local police carried out 22 arrests against the backdrop of violence between Turks and Kurds. Half of those arrested were minors, and weapons were found with them.

But this didn’t stop the attacks, with a Kurdish bakery ending up vandalised on the same night.

Matto Langeraert, spokesman for the Ghent police, described the ongoing tensions saying: “From the night before until late at night, the police had a strong presence in various places to protect people and property.

“For the second night running, we can say that the atmosphere was sinister and that groups of young people gathered on public property to confront each other or commit crimes.”

Police officials in Ghent as well as the city’s mayor Mathias De Clercq are appealing to the public to remain calm.

The police said: “We reiterate our firm commitment to a judicial enquiry into all the events.”

On Wednesday, Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called on both the Turkish and Kurdish communities in his country to bring violence to an end.

He added any demonstration in support of PKK – an organisation proscribed as terrorist in the UK and the EU among other nations – would not be tolerated.

He said: “Freedom of opinion is guaranteed in Belgium, but expressions in support of a terrorist organisation like the PKK will not be tolerated. This violence must stop. Calm must return. We must not import foreign conflicts into our country.”

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