Turkey says PKK responsible for 'attack' at Switzerland children's festival
Turkey’s foreign ministry has “strongly condemned” an “attack” at a children’s festival in Switzerland on Sunday, accusing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of carrying out the assault.
A group of young men, allegedly PKK supporters, verbally and physically assaulted attendees of the “International Children’s Festival” in Basel, Switzerland, according to Turkish media Daily Sabah.
At least six people, reportedly Turkish citizens, were wounded and some were hospitalised, the newspaper said.
“The fact that a terrorist organisation and its sympathisers have degraded to target a children’s festival in the heart of Europe has once again showed the ugly face of the terrorist organisation to the international public,” Turkey’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement on Monday.
The ministry wished the injured a “quick recovery” and said “the perpetrators of this heinous act” should be quickly bought to justice.
Video footage, shared by Turkish journalist Mete Sohtaoglu, showed chaotic scenes of men pushing down iron railings while shouting and trying to hit festival-goers.
The men were not armed and no children appeared to be caught in the skirmish.
The video has not been independently verified.
European outlet Today Euro 24, which described the incident as a “brawl”, not an attack, said the police stopped the assault and arrested five suspects. Those arrested were Turkish nationals between the ages of 24 to 30, it said.
The PKK is a militant group - recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU - which has launched an armed struggle against the Turkish government calling for more independence for Kurdish minorities.
Ankara carried out a number of airstrikes in northern Iraq, a base for the Kurdish group, earlier this year, prompting a renewed escalation of violence between Turkish security forces and the PKK.
As Turks head to the polls in June, national security - and by extension demilitarising the PKK - is set to be a key policy issue and an important rhetorical bargaining chip for President Erdogan and his rivals.