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Greek Cypriot dies in border violence

Security forces in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus shot dead a Greek- Cypriot demonstrator and wounded two British peace-keepers yesterday in one of the worst days of violence since the 1974 Turkish invasion. Costas Simitis, the Prime Minister of Greece, denounced the killing as "a criminal act by the occupying forces of Cyprus, and an unprecedented provocation".

The soldiers, serving with the 39th Regiment Royal Artillery as part of a United Nations force, were said not to be in a serious condition; one was shot in the lower back, and the other in the arm.

The violence began when 250 Greek Cypriots stormed into the UN-patrolled buffer zone dividing the Turkish-controlled northern one-third of Cyprus from the Greek-Cypriot south.

The demonstrators had attended the nearby funeral in eastern Cyprus of Tasos Isaac, 24, a Greek Cypriot clubbed to death in the buffer zone on Sunday by men in civilian clothes from the Turkish side.

The man killed yesterday was Solomos Solomos, 26, a cousin of Isaac. He was shot in the neck as he tried to haul down a Turkish-Cypriot flag from a sentry post on the edge of the Turkish-Cypriot lines.

Turkish Cypriot officials blamed the Greek Cypriot government for the violence. "It is a very saddening incident, but I want to point out that no other country on the face of the earth provokes its people against other people like the Greek Cypriot administration does," said Atay Ahmet Rashid, foreign minister of the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which no state but Turkey recognises.

The rise in tension has set back international efforts to make a fresh start at solving the Cyprus problem.

The island has been divided since the Turkish army launched an invasion in July 1974 in response to a Greek-sponsored coup in Nicosia by supporters of Cyprus's union with Greece.