Amid tensions, Kurds celebrate spring festival in Turkey

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AP) — Thousands of Kurds have gathered in Turkey to celebrate a spring festival that has traditionally been used to assert the Kurdish ethnic identity and demand more rights.

Turkish authorities permitted the Newroz celebration on Tuesday in Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish city in a region where Kurdish militants regularly clash with government forces.

A few people in the crowd are carrying flags with the image of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Police are keeping their distance from the event, allowing Kurdish guards to search people and keep order.

Newroz, the Farsi-language word for "new year," is an ancient Persian festival that is celebrated in countries including Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Iran.