Thousands of schoolchildren staged strikes Friday in several Bulgarian cities over the teaching of Turkish where 1.5 million ethnic Turks live, local officials said.

Eleven schools in Kardzhali, 15O miles southeast of Sofia, were blockaded by people protesting against paying tuition to have the Turkish language taught in their schools.At the same time, ethnic Turkish schoolchildren boycotted classes in 51 schools in northern and southern Bulgaria, demanding mandatory classes be taught in Turkish.