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Far right extremists disrupt reunification event (Updated)

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Around 100 members of far right party ELAM disrupted an event on the Cyprus problem in Limassol, attended by former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

Reports said the thugs, who shouted slogans and held Greek flags, appeared outside the Panos Solomonides municipal cultural centre just before the event was scheduled to start at 7pm.

They managed to enter the lobby and hurled a flare inside the hall, the reports said.

A Turkish Cypriot journalist who tried to take photos was slightly injured, the Cyprus News Agency said.

The group was pushed back by police and the event went ahead as scheduled.

Reports said police arrested three people.

An ELAM spokesman said it was a protest against the presence of Talat.

US Ambassador to Cyprus John Koenig was also present at the event, organised by the technical university, TEPAK, Europe Direct, the EU representation, and Limassol citizens initiative for reunification.

In messages from his personal Twitter account, Koenig said afterwards: “Real story happened inside the hall. Cypriots talking about the future. Extremists couldn’t block dialogue.”

Talat was the main speaker at the event whose subject was the prospects of solving the Cyprus problem and reunification.

The government condemned the attack in the “strongest way.”

Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said President Nicos Anastasiades was being kept informed at the presidential palace and was determined not to allow such people to create trouble for the Republic.

“We will not allow similar incidents, that bring shame upon us all, to happen again,” he told state broadcaster CyBC. “No one will terrorise democracy and the expression of views.”

Anstasiades will also ask for explanation from those responsible on why the incident had not been prevented.

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said he had not been informed by the police leadership about the event or the measures they were planning to take.

He said he found out about the incident from a member of the public and accused the chief of police of keeping him in the dark.

“It is not the first but the umpteenth time the police leadership, especially the chief, did not inform me either about event or incidents,”

Nicolaou said in a statement. “In fact, oftentimes I am informed about many events afterwards, something which is unacceptable.”

He added that he has asked for a full investigation into the incident.

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