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Police clash with Kurdish protesters in Turkey

Bulent Kilic / AFP - Getty Images

Turkish riot police fire tear gas as they clash with Kurdish demonstrators during a protest in support of a hunger strike movement by Kurdish prisoners in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 30, 2012.

Bulent Kilic / AFP - Getty Images

A protestor throws a fire bomb during clashes in Istanbul, Oct. 30.

The Associated Press reports — Kurdish protesters clashed with police on Tuesday near a prison in southeastern Turkey where some inmates are on a hunger strike, witnesses said.

Several thousand people joined a protest march to a prison in the city of Diyarbakir, and police used tear gas and water cannon to drive back groups of demonstrators who threw stones and firebombs from side streets. Shops were shuttered and many families did not send their children to school in line with calls for a boycott.

After decades of oppression, Kurds in Syria get taste of freedom

Hundreds of Kurdish prisoners in dozens of Turkish jails are on a hunger strike to demand increased rights for Kurds and improved jail conditions for Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is being held on an island near Istanbul. Most of the prisoners are jailed for alleged links to the rebels, who are deemed terrorists by Turkey and its Western allies.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says rebels are orchestrating the hunger strike and that the government will not bow to blackmail. The government has sought to reconcile with disaffected members of Turkey's Kurdish minority, but activists who seek autonomy in the mostly Kurdish southeast and say state concessions have not gone far enough.

A surge in attacks by the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party in recent months has further eclipsed efforts to find a peaceful solution to a conflict that has dragged on since the 1980s, claiming tens of thousands of lives.

See more images related to Turkey on PhotoBlog

Bulent Kilic / AFP - Getty Images

Turkish riot police fire a water cannon as they clash with Kurdish demonstrators during a protest in support of a hunger strike movement by Kurdish prisoners in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 30.

Bulent Kilic / AFP - Getty Images

Protestors help a woman affected by tear gas used by police during clashes against Kurdish demonstrators protesting in support of a hunger strike movement by Kurdish prisoners in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 30.

Bulent Kilic / AFP - Getty Images

Kurdish protestors stand in front of a flaming barricade during clashes between Kurdish demonstrators and riot police in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 30.

Bulent Kilic / AFP - Getty Images

Turkish riot police take positions as they clash with Kurdish demonstrators during a protest in support of a hunger strike movement by Kurdish prisoners in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 30.

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