Bufferzone incident, Turkish soldiers confront farmers

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The United Nations confirmed that an incident involving a Greek Cypriot farmer and Turkish soldiers took place in the buffer zone, at Dhenia village, in Nicosia district, on Tuesday.

Nicosia said it is monitoring the incident and handling the whole issue.

Dhenia community leader, Christakis Panayiotou, told the Cyprus News Agency that when the Greek Cypriot farmer entered the buffer zone to work with some of his workers,  armed Turkish soldiers appeared and asked him to leave, warning they would shoot him.

“The UN was notified, and we advised him to leave, and so he did along with his workers,” Panayiotou said.

The UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) spokesperson, Aleem Siddique, told CAN: “We can confirm there was an incident involving a local farmer and the Turkish forces inside the buffer zone today.”

“The incident was resolved peacefully and will be reported in the Mission’s regular reports to the Security Council in due course.”

Siddique said, “UNFICYP continues to engage both sides to ensure calm is maintained across the buffer zone.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Demetris Demetriou: “We are in contact with the peacekeeping force to handle the issue.”

Dhenia community leader told CNA that last week Turkish settlers had entered the UN-controlled buffer zone with some of their animals that destroyed around 2,000 carob trees that Greek Cypriot farmers had planted.

He said one of the farmers visited the buffer zone to see how he could plant the trees again.

But armed Turkish soldiers in a military post situated 200-300 metres away went into the buffer zone and threatened to kill the farmer if he did not leave.

Panayiotou said that they reported the incident to the UN, the Foreign Ministry and the National Guard, noting that members of the Cypriot armed forces had witnessed the incident from a military post between Dhenia and Akaki village.