Naval Base Blast: Demonstrators Clash With Riot Police
An estimated eight thousand protestors participated in protests in Nicosia's Eleftheria Square and outside the Presidential Palace in what started as a peaceful demonstration against the deaths, but then turned violent.
Young men, hooligans, threw molotov cocktails at riot police, who responded with tear gas. Families with children who had turned out to share their grief over the tragedy on July 11th ran away, choking, crying and covering their eyes against the tear gas.
A number of marchers needed medical attention, and riot police arrested truckloads of protestors.
Twelve men, including the naval commander and second-in-command, were killed in a three kiloton blast at the naval base in Mari on July 11th. The minister of defence and head of the national guard resigned a few hours after the blast, but their resignations have not assuaged the victims' families and the public at large.
Anger grows day by day amid evidence that the government knew that munitions confiscated from a cargo ship in 2009 were high explosives, but did not take basic safety measures. The containers with the munitions were stacked tightly together and left outside in temperatures over 40 degrees Centigrade. The situation endangered the lives of sailors and personnel at the naval base for over two years.
Photo credit: Sigma TV