ISTANBUL (TheBlaze/AP) — Anti-American protesters were filmed chanting "Yankee, go home!" as they roughed up three U.S. Navy sailors in plain clothes Wednesday in Istanbul near where their warship was docked on an inlet in the Black Sea.
About 10 protesters shouted at them, calling them killers and said they should leave the country. The protesters, who carried a banner of the Youth Association of Turkey, threw red paint at the sailors and briefly succeeded in putting white sacks over their heads.
"You declare that you are member of U.S. Army and now, because we define you as murders, as killers, we want you to get out of our land," one of the protesters shouted.
Watch the footage of the attack:
The servicemen were from the USS Ross, a guided-missile destroyer docked nearby, according to Capt. Greg Hicks, a spokesman for the U.S. European Command. He said they were not hurt and were safely back aboard the ship, but that shore leave for its sailors was canceled for the remainder of the day. The incident is being investigated by U.S. authorities, he said.
"Soldiers from the occupying country think they can walk around freely in Eminonu," association spokesman Melik Dibek said, referring to the neighborhood where the incident occurred. "It's obvious why they've anchored here —because of their ambitions in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. American imperialism is the reason why the Middle East has turned into a chamber of fire."
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara condemned the attack on Twitter and said it had no doubt that most Turks would reject such an action that "so disrespects Turkey's reputation for hospitality."
Anti-American sentiment in Turkey is not widespread, but some Turks accuse the United States of meddling in regional affairs.
One sailor tried to ignore the protesters to no avail. Another worked unsuccessfully to push off the protesters. When the sailors couldn't get away, they began to walk and then run away down a sidewalk.
A video of the incident shot by the association and posted online showed the protesters chasing them, shouting "Yankee, go home!"
Dogan news agency said Turkish police have detained 12 people, including one woman, in connection with the incident.