Pro-Greek protesters from the south breached security at the Dherynia checkpoint on Sunday evening, while a video emerged showing masked men holding baseball bats, throwing flares, and chanting slogans against Turkey during the incident.
According to local media, an estimated 200 demonstrators gathered near the Dherynia checkpoint in Famagusta district, Sunday evening around 8pm, chanting anti-Turkish slogans. Some local media said the demonstrators were football fans of a local club.
Hooded men holding baseball bats breached a gated entrance at the checkpoint and started chanting anti-Turkish slogans, such as 'Cyprus is Greek' and 'Turks, Mongols, murderers'
A number of Greek Cypriot law enforcement officers were present at the checkpoint, which separates the ethnically divided island into a Greek Cypriot south in the Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriot north, a breakaway entity recognized only by Ankara.
But a video online also showed a moment when a few dozen hooded men some holding baseball bats breached a gated entrance at the checkpoint and started chanting slogans against Turkey, such as “Cyprus is Greek” and “Turks, Mongols, murderers” as some demonstrators marched forward to the Turkish Cypriot terminal while property damages could be seen in the video.
Reports also said a fire had broken out near the checkpoint caused by fireworks used by the protesters.
The area has been known for anti-Turkish demonstrations carried out by Greek Cypriots, including this week against a decision to re-open to the public a beach strip in Varosha, a ghost town inhabited mostly by Greeks until August 1974 when it was abandoned.
Prior to opening the checkpoint, Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish army had raised security concerns over the proposed route, citing fears of annual demonstrations, such as memorial marches for two Greek Cypriots who were killed in August 1996 during biker riots in the buffer zone. A Turkish soldier was then shot dead a month later in a revenge attack.
Local media also pointed out that one of the candidates in Sunday’s election for the leadership in the north, Erhan Arikli, was wanted by authorities in the south in connection with the fatal shooting of an angered Greek Cypriot protester who had climbed a Turkish flag pole after the brutal killing of his biker cousin, accusations which the Turkish politician has denied.
Police were investigating the incident.