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Farmers in buffer zone ‘threatened by soldiers from the north’ (update 2)

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Farmers working near the village of Denia in the buffer zone were on Tuesday threatened by five soldiers from the north, some of whom were armed, according to community leader Christakis Panayiotou. 

He told the Cyprus Mail that at about 11:30am five Turkish soldiers approached farmers working in fields near the village and threatened to kill them if they did not leave. 

In pictures captured by one of the farmers in question, four soldiers from the north are seen and at least two are armed. Panayotiou said a fifth soldier was out of camera shot. 

“They told the farmer that ‘I will kill you if you don’t leave’ and pointed to a box of ammo with more bullets,” Panayiotou told the Cyprus Mail. 

Phileleftheros reported that other incidents have occurred in the area within the past two weeks but Tuesday’s events saw a notable rise in tensions. 

Panayiotou told local media that in recent days Turkish settlers entered the buffer zone with their farm animals and destroyed crops being cultivated by Greek Cypriot farmers. 

A farmer on Tuesday went to assess the damage but was intercepted by the troops from the north, he said.  

“But this time it wasn’t settlers who got involved but the Turkish army… who at a distance of five to six metres threatened him [the Greek Cypriot farmer],” Panayiotou told CyBC radio. 

He further said that the incident was observed by the National Guard which has members posted at an outpost located between Denia and Akaki. 

The community leader also stated that he was informed that the foreign ministry and the UN have been alerted to the issue. 

UN spokesman Aleem Siddique confirmed that an incident had taken place within the buffer zone but that it had been peacefully resolved, adding that it will be included in the UN report to the security council.  

“Unficyp (UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus) continues to be in contact with both sides to ensure that calm prevails along the length of the buffer zone,” Siddique told the Cyprus News Agency.  

For its part, foreign ministry spokesperson Dimitris Dimitriou said that they are aware of the incident and are in communication with the UN forces to manage the issue.  

Meanwhile the Coordinating Committee of Farmers of Western Nicosia, which includes Denia, is due to have a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday but it was not immediately clear if the meeting was related to the Denia incident. 

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