TWO British soldiers were shot and injured as violent protests erupted for the second time this week in the Cypriot buffer zone today.

Greek Cypriot Solomos Solomou, 26, from Paralimni, south-east Cyprus, was shot dead and nine others were injured during the anti-Turkish demonstration inside the United Nations zone that divides the island. It was the second fatal incident this week.

About 300 demonstrators were involved in today's clashes after marching to the so-called ``Green Line'' to place a wreath and a Greek Cypriot flag on the spot where 24-year-old Greek Cypriot Tassos Isaac was beaten to death on Sunday.

The stone-throwing crowd scuffled with police and UN peacekeepers and dashed to the Turkish frontline where Turkish troops opened fire, killing Solomou as he tried to tear down a Turkish flag. The Greek Cypriots withdrew under heavy gunfire.

The clashes in Dherinia, 37 miles from the island's capital Nicosia, erupted soon after Isaac was buried in his hometown.

He was the first Greek Cypriot protester to be killed in the UN-policed buffer zone since the 1974 Turkish invasion which left the island divided.

The British soldiers, members of 39 Regiment Royal Artillery, were part of the British contribution to the 1200-strong UN peacekeeping force that patrols the buffer zone.

It is believed that one of the soldiers was wounded in the arm and the other in the buttocks.

``The two soldiers were shot while holding back protesters in the UN buffer zone in eastern Cyprus,'' said the Ministry of Defence in London. ``Their injuries are not life-threatening.''

The soldiers were taken to hospital in the Cypriot capital Nicosia for treatment. According to local reports, the shots were fired by Turkish Cypriot troops. ``There was one hell of a lot of bullets flying from the Turkish side, a wholly disproportionate response,'' a UN source said.

Hundreds of people, many dressed in black, had gathered in front of UN peacekeepers and fled in panic when the gunfire started. Others threw themselves on the ground.

Greek Cypriot riot police and young soldiers took up combat positions but did not return fire.

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash urged President Clerides to stop protests along the buffer zone. ``Clerides, you can stop these youths, you have enough power. Stop these youths,'' he said.

In Ankara a Turkish military official claimed 600 to 700 Greek Cypriots passed the UN peacekeepers and went into the buffer zone.

``One climbed up the flagpole to lower the TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) flag.

``Until this point the security forces on the Turkish side were not even visible so as not to cause any provocations. But when this person started to climb the flagpole, the security forces opened fire. He was shot and he died.''

A witness said he was shot in the neck and died shortly after being carried by UN peacekeepers to an ambulance.

The troops took cover as the shots rang out and they were injured as they attempted to make the others leave.

Some 370 troops from the regiment, which is based in Newcastle upon Tyne, are serving with the UN in Cyprus.

Among the wounded were a 59-year-old woman, who was shot in the abdomen and two Cypriot policemen.

In London the Foreign Office said it was ``deeply concerned'' at the outbreak of further violence along the ceasefire line.

``These incidents reinforce the urgency of international efforts to find a political settlement in Cyprus,'' said an official.

``We condemn the killing of another Greek Cypriot demonstrator and we deplore the wounding of British personnel.''

Britain called on both communities to refrain from violence and to respect the buffer zone.

The Foreign Office said it would consult with all interested parties, including the UN on what action should be taken to prevent similar confrontations.

Calling on both communities to respect the buffer zone, it added that Britain would be taking up the issue with the UN in a bid to resolve the dispute peacefully.

UN peace force representative Gustave Feissel later called today's shooting unwarranted.

He said the commander of the UN forces which patrol the Green Line was protesting to the Turkish forces commander in Cyrpus about the incident.

Feissel said UN soldiers were about to bring the Greek Cypriot who was killed, Solomou, back to the Greek-Cypriot side ``when a shot rang out from the Turkish side and he was killed''.

``Many shots were fired and a number of other people were injured, including two of our own soldiers,'' he said.

``In our opinion it was totally unwarranted.''-Reuter