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Turkey blames US for violence between Erdogan's bodyguards and protesters

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Turkey has blamed the violence that occurred on May 16 between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's personal security guards and protesters on local D.C. police. (Image source: Voices of America video screenshot)

Turkey lodged a formal protest with the U.S. ambassador to Ankara over what it alleges were "lapses in security" that supposedly led to the violence between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bodyguards and protesters in Washington, D.C., last week, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The incident occurred Tuesday after a joint news conference between Erdogan and President Donald Trump. Trump met with Erdogan to discuss the fight against terrorist groups such as Islamic State and the Kurdistan Workers Party.

According to The New York Times, the protesters had gathered in opposition to Erdogan's policies on multiple issues, including his government's stances toward Kurds and Armenians and his reported attacks on democratic institutions.

The fight between the protesters and Turkish security saw 11 people injured, including nine who were taken to a hospital. In a video posted by The Voice of America on Twitter, police are seen attempting to break up the two groups but with little success.

(Content warning: This video contains violence and blood.):

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The U.S. State Department blamed the attack on Turkish security and condemned the violence as an attack on free speech, according to the New York Times. The State Department also summoned Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kılıç, but the character of the conversation is unknown.

“We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

However, the Post reported that the Turkish government contradicted local police reports that the incident was incited by Erdogan's security and put the blame squarely on D.C. police for not providing thorough enough security to prevent the demonstration against Erdogan. Turkish officials have demanded a full investigation.

From the Washington Post:

Turkish diplomats have criticized the local police for failing to quell an “unpermitted” and “provocative” demonstration.

The Turkish foreign ministry’s statement on Monday went even further, criticizing “the inability of U.S. authorities to take sufficient precautions at every stage of the official program.”  And it demanded that the United States conduct a “full investigation of this diplomatic incident and provide the necessary explanation.”

It's not immediately clear at this time who started the fight between Turkish security and the protesters.

Voices of America released video of what some have alleged to be Erdogen himself giving his bodyguards orders to attack the protesters.

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Alternatively, a contradictory report from the Turkish state-subsidized Anadolu Agency released a video that the outlet claimed shows the attack began when a protester threw a water bottle at security.

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