One dead in biker battle with Turkish Cypriots

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The Independent Online
Nicosia - One Greek-Cypriot demonstrator died and a dozen were injured when hundreds of bikers defied calls for restraint and clashed with Turkish troops in Cyprus at the weekend.

The protests against division of the island into Greek and Turkish sectors were held despite the organisers' decision to cancel them. Greek-Cypriot police said the man who was killed was beaten to death by Turkish Cypriots when he and another man were trapped in barbed-wire barricades at Dherinia, 35 miles from the divided capital, Nicosia. They were among stone-throwing protesters who broke through Turkish barricades.

The Turks, who outnumbered the protesters, drove them back, beating unconscious with clubs and stones the two tangled in the wire. United Nations peace- keepers dragged the pair free and took them to hospital. Police said 13 Greek Cypriots were injured in the clashes at several points along the Green Line. Most had superficial injuries but two were in serious condition. Several had been shot, the Greek-Cypriot police said. There was no immediate report of any TurkishCypriot casualties.

Several demonstrators were hurt when Turkish forces occupying the northern third of the island unleashed volleys of buckshot at stone-throwers around Achna, 25 miles from Nicosia.

On the north-eastern edge of the capital, dozens of bikers tore down barbed-wire barricades erected by the 1,200-strong UN force and stormed into the narrow buffer separating the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot sectors.

President Glafcos Clerides had appealed to the motorcyclists to abort the protest, which aimed to dramatise the plight of the island, divided since the invasion of the north by Turkish forces in 1974. He said Turkey's occupation forces would use the challenge as a pretext to ignite a full- blown confrontation.