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Protesters clash with police in Turkey

(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday (October 30) accused outlawed Kurdish militants of orchestrating a mass prison hunger strike, shrugging off pressure to end the protest by saying his government would not be "extorted" into meeting demands. Some 900 people, imprisoned in more than 50 jails, have refused food for 49 days against a backdrop of increased violence between Turkish soldiers and the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the United States and the European Union call a "terrorist" organisation. In his first public remarks on the hunger strike, Erdogan told party members in parliament, broadcast live on television, that protesters were being manipulated by "merchants of death." Erdogan also defended the country's prison system. Turkish forces are battling the PKK, which has staged some of its bloodiest attacks in more than a decade as heightened tensions simmer with neighbour Syria, which Erdogan has accused of arming the PKK to punish Turkey for criticising its bloody crackdown of a 19-month popular uprising.

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