ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – At least five people have been wounded after Kurdish security forces confronted hundreds of demonstrators on the main Erbil-Koya road as they marched towards the capital of the Kurdistan Region to protest Turkey’s ongoing military operation on Afrin.
“Due to the shooting incidents, five wounded people were rushed to the Koya hospital, two of those wounded with bullets are in critical condition,” Hawkar Ali, media officer of Koya public health, told Rudaw.
The demonstrators were volunteers from Sulaimani wanting to go to Afrin from Erbil, according to reports.
Erbil security authorities said the marchers tried to pass through a checkpoint without inspection.
“Nearly 400 people came to the Degala checkpoint and wanted to enter Erbil without inspection and legal measures,” Tariq Nuri, head of Erbil Asayesh (security), told Rudaw.
Degala is about 33 kilometres east of Erbil.
“They refused to undergo our legal procedures as they intended to enter Erbil violently, therefore tensions erupted,” Nuri claimed.
He rejected reports that his forces had opened fire on the protesters, injuring some, suggesting instead that they had been wounded by rocks.
“We just fired into the air to disperse them and control the situation,” he said. “The firing was never directed at them.”
Some members of the security forces were also wounded with rocks, he added.
When ambulances arrived at the scene, they were attacked by the demonstrators, Hawkar Ali said.
Kurds across the Kurdistan Region have rallied in support of the people of Afrin where Turkey launched a military operation on January 20.