Erdogan to Kurds: ‘Dark circles’ are seeking to sabotage peace process
ISTANBUL - Deadly protests in Turkey over the government's policy on Islamic State (IS) militants are aimed at sabotaging the fragile peace process between Kurdish rebels and Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.
"It's very obvious that this game is aimed at sabotaging the peaceful environment in the east and southeast as well as the peace process and our brotherhood," Erdogan said in his first comments on the unrest that has left at least 22 people dead.
The pro-Kurdish protesters are angered by Turkey's reluctance to intervene militarily against IS jihadists trying to seize the mainly-Kurdish Syrian town of Kobane on the Turkish border.
Erdogan said: "We will not tolerate any threat or intimidation that targets Turkey's peace, stability and security.
"We will initiate the steps necessary to fight those who engage in such acts," he said in a statement released by the presidency.
Erdogan also blamed "dark circles" for the "loss of lives and bloodshed" and urged all political leaders not to act in a way that could promote violence, vandalism or chaos.
Kurds have warned that the fall of Kobane could end the peace talks between Ankara and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has for three decades waged a rebellion for self-rule in Turkey, but has largely observed a ceasefire since 2013.