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Nine people were injured on Tuesday, one critically, in an eruption of violence outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence on Washington’s embassy row, as supporters of controversial Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including his guards, clashed with protesters.
The melee broke out shortly after Erdogan met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, where he received a warm welcome.
“We’ve had a great relationship and we will make it even better,” Trump said. “We look forward to having very strong and solid discussions.”
Hours later, Erdogan’s guards brawled with protesters against Erdogan’s record on human rights outside the ambassador’s residence. Graphic video published by VOA Turkish shows men in dark suits breaking through a line of police separating the two groups and running across the street towards the protesters.
In Turkish, the video caption identifies Erdogan’s guards as participating in the fight. On Wednesday, U.S. officials confirmed to NBC news that the men beating the protesters were Erdogan’s body guards.
Some of the men in suits carried the Turkish national flag, and at least appears to be wearing an official lapel pin. Some pro-Erdogan protesters participated alongside the guards.
On Wednesday, the DC metro police issued a statement on the incident, saying that it “[stands] in contrast to the First Amendment rights and principles that we work tirelessly to protect each and every day.”
According to the statement, the police will be working with the State Department and the U.S. Secret service to identify and hold the assailants accountable.