Six injured in Turkish-Kurdish riots in Limburg

Six people were injured in clashes between people of Kurdish and Turkish origin in Limburg on Sunday. Police will increase surveillance at the site of the riots and at nearby schools and mosques in the coming weeks.

Five people were lightly injured and a sixth person suffered serious injuries. One person was arrested and a crisis meeting was held on Monday in the municipality of Houthalen.

"This confrontation was triggered by a convoy of Kurds from Leuven heading towards Houthalen and Heusden, displaying symbols that provoked discussions with people of Turkish origin," said Alain Yzermans, mayor of Houthalen-Helchteren.

"This led to the physical assault of a Turkish man. The incident led to several confrontations that spread to the Houthalen and Heusden-Zolder area."

'Hate messages can lead to prosecution'

In Heusden-Zolder, a house where people of Kurdish origin went into hiding was targeted, but there were also riots in the streets in several places. 

Police forces were deployed en masse on Sunday to separate the fighting parties and calm the situation. Police helicopters and water cannon were deployed. 

"All the injured have already been discharged from hospital," said Yzermans. Following the riots, a task force will be set up to further analyse facts, information and messages on social media, he said. 

"There were calls to come to Heusden-Zolder and Houthalen-Helchteren. If hate messages can be traced, they will be investigated, including their origin, and these investigations can lead to prosecutions," Yzermans said.

Kurdish demonstration in Brussels

In the coming days and weeks, the police will carry out increased surveillance near the targeted house, in schools, mosques and during high-risk demonstrations. 

The police will inform schools about the situation and, with the mayor, invite mosques to dialogue. "If necessary, the crisis cell will remain on standby. We continue to call for dialogue and peace," Yzermans said.

On Monday afternoon, the Kurdish freedom movement organised a demonstration at the European Parliament in Brussels in response to the riots. They described the clashes as "organised violence" by the Turkish ultra-nationalist organisation Grey Wolves against the Kurdish community.


#FlandersNewsService | A protest by the Kurdish community in Brussels on Monday in response to the riots in Limburg on Sunday © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

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