9 injured, 2 arrested in fight at Turkish ambassador's home

Violent protests broke out at the Turkish ambassador's home in Washington, D.C.

May 17, 2017, 8:25 PM

— -- Nine people were injured and two were arrested on Tuesday after violent protests broke out at the Turkish ambassador's home in Washington, D.C., where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited earlier, authorities said.

DC Fire and EMS spokesman Doug Buchanan told ABC News that two people were transported to a local hospital with serious injuries, while seven others were “walking wounded” and headed to the hospital via the mass casualty medical bus. He did not elaborate on the circumstances of the fight.

The altercation occurred Tuesday afternoon as supporters and opponents of the visiting president clashed at the residence, which is located about half a mile away from the Turkish Embassy in the U.S. capital, authorities said.

The Turkish embassy said in a statement Wednesday night, "Groups affiliated with the PKK, which the U.S. and Turkey have designated as a terrorist organization, gathered yesterday without permit in Sheridan Circle in the immediate vicinity of the Ambassador’s Residence, while the President of Turkey was visiting the Residence. The demonstrators began aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the President."

The statement continued, "The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense and one of them was seriously injured. The violence and injuries were the result of this unpermitted, provocative demonstration. We hope that, in the future, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that similar provocative actions causing harm and violence do not occur."

Graphic video captured by Turkish media network VOA showed pro-Erdogan forces rushing a police line and beating human rights protesters in front of the ambassador's residence.

Other footage captured by ABC affiliate WJLA shows Erdogan being pulled away from the chaotic scene. Erdogan visited the residence shortly after he met with President Donald Trump at the White House.

Witnesses said at least two opposing demonstrations were taking place at the home. One included Erdogan supporters from Turkey and the other consisted of Kurds and Armenians who oppose his human rights record.

Authorities were keeping the demonstrators apart until people began to cross the police-enforced buffer zone, according to WJLA.

"All of the sudden they just ran towards us," Yazidi Kurd demonstrator Lucy Usoyan told WJLA on Tuesday.

Usoyan was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where she was being treated for a head injury.

"Someone was beating me in the head nonstop," she told WJLA. "And I thought, 'OK I’m on the ground already, what is the purpose to beat me?'"

Pro-Erdogan demonstrators, meanwhile, blamed supporters of the Kurdish militia group YPG for Tuesday’s violence.

"One of the YPG supporters ran across, picked up a megaphone, and hit a Turkish citizen with it," pro-Erdogan demonstrator Busra Eren told WJLA.

On Wednesday, a U.S. State Department spokesperson released a statement on the incident, saying the department is "concerned by the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel Tuesday evening."

"Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest," continued the statement. "We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms."

ABC's Sarah Shales and Chad Murray contributed to this report.

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