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WASHINGTON — Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, including his government security forces, violently charged a group of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington on Tuesday night in what the Metropolitan Police chief characterized as “a brutal attack.”

Eleven people were injured, including a police officer, and nine were taken to a hospital, the police chief, Peter Newsham, said at a news conference Wednesday.

The State Department condemned the attack as an assault on free speech and warned Turkey that the action would not be tolerated.

“We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,” Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement Wednesday.


Photos and videos posted on social media showed a chaotic scene of people kicking and punching as the police tried to intervene. At one point, a man threw a bullhorn, two men could be seen bleeding from the head, and another man was on the ground being violently kicked.

The fighting poured into a park across the street as uniformed police officers, some in helmets and swinging collapsible batons, tried to restore order. Men in dark suits could be seen in the videos, punching and kicking protesters. The Anadolu Agency, a state-owned Turkish news service, reported that members of the president’s security team were involved in the fighting.

The skirmish came after President Trump had welcomed Erdogan to the White House on Tuesday and praised him as a stalwart ally in the battle against Islamist extremism, ignoring Erdogan’s authoritarian crackdown on his own people and brushing aside recent tensions between the United States and Turkey over how to wage the military campaign against the Islamic State group.

Newsham demurred when asked whether members of Erdogan’s security team were involved in the attack, but the State Department later acknowledged their presence.


He said an investigation was continuing but that the police had a good sense of who was involved. He added that some members of the pro-Erdogan group were carrying firearms, which made it more difficult for the police to contain the scene.

“We intend to assure that there is accountability for anyone involved in this assault,” he said, adding that the police were working closely with the State Department and the Secret Service.

“Yesterday we witnessed what appeared to be a brutal attack on peaceful protests,” Newsham said.

“First and foremost I will say that that is not something that we will tolerate here in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “This is a city where people should be able to come and peacefully protest.”

A spokeswoman for the Secret Service, which provides protection to visiting foreign leaders, referred questions to the Metropolitan Police and the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

The Turkish embassy spokesman, Aydan Karamanoglu, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday morning.

Police said two people were arrested. Ayten Necmi, 49, of Woodside, N.Y., was charged with aggravated assault, and Jalal Kheirabaoi, 42, of Fairfax, Va., was charged with assault on a police officer. Protest organizers said those arrested were part of their group.

On Wednesday, Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, joined those condemning the violence. “This is the United States of America,” he said on Twitter. “We do not do this here.”