PARIS (Reuters)–Eighteen people were hurt and 34 in custody on Saturday after a mob armed with baseball bats attacked Turks protesting against a bill before parliament condemning the 1915 mass slaying of Armenia’s as genocide.
Police said three of the injured were in serious condition after the melee near the French National Assembly in central Paris.
They said those detained after the clashes included witnesses as well as suspects in the attack.
The demonstration was organized by the Union of Turkish Associations in France after the National Assembly last month approved a bill stating: "France publicly recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915."
As demonstrators began to gather at a large public park–they were attacked by about 60 to 80 people armed with bats and clubs–police said.
With the French capital simultaneously hosting World Cup supporters–homosexuals arriving for their yearly "Gay Pride Parade," and the annual "Feast of Music," Turks had opted to hold their public protest at the Place Vauban–located behind a historical military hospital building dating back to the Napoleonic era–the Turkish Daily News reported Sunday.
Despite tight security measures taken by police–three Turks arriving early at the scene of the demonstration were stabbed by an unidentified group. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the stabbing–eyewitnesses told the TDN that they believed the event to be a "Kurdish trap" to spoil the rally. Witnesses stated that the attackers were armed with baseball bats and iron bars but were unclear as to the number of people in the mob.
In the clash between this unidentified group and the demonstrators–18 people were injured. French police questioned 35 people including witnesses and suspects–security forces on the scene told the TDN.
After order was restored–an estimated 1,500 Turkish nationals continued their protest in peace as police looked on–the spokesman’said.