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 France arrests 11 in Kurd separatist probe  

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France arrests 11 in Kurd separatist probe  27.2.2010 

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February 27, 2010

PARIS, French police arrested 11 people suspected of recruiting young fighters into the armed Kurdish separatist movement PKK, widely branded a terrorist group, an official said on Friday.

Seven of the suspects were detained in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille and the rest in Montpellier, Draguignan and Grenoble, also in the southeast, the official said.

Police also raided several properties, including a Kurdish cultural centre in Marseille.

The raids were part of an investigation launched in 2008 into activities in France linked to the Turkey Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK),
www.ekurd.netwhich has been fighting for an independent Kurdish homeland for more than two decades.

The official said French anti-terrorist police suspect it has been recruiting and training young members at sites in France, including one training camp discovered north of Montpellier last year.

They also suspect links with Kurdish groups in Germany, Belgium and Italy.

Since 1984 PKK took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan) which has claimed around 45,000 lives of Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas,
www.ekurd.net the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

Last August, the government announced plans to expand Kurdish freedoms in a bid to erode popular support for the PKK and end the insurgency.

Although the drive faltered amid a ban on the country's main Kurdish DTP party, street protests and PKK violence, Ankara has vowed to push ahead with the reforms. 
 
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