Turkish Police Fire Teargas At Protesters In Istanbul

by
Reuters
Turkish police fired teargas and water cannon for a second day on Saturday to prevent hundreds of protesters reaching Istanbul's central Taksim Square, scene of violent protests in which hundreds were injured on Friday.

Protests

Turkish police fired teargas and water cannon for a second day on Saturday to prevent hundreds of protesters reaching Istanbul's central Taksim Square, scene of violent protests in which hundreds were injured on Friday.

Anti-government demonstrators wearing handkerchiefs and surgical masks chanted "unite against fascism" and "government resign" as they tried to march to Taksim. Protesters also clashed with police in the Besiktas neighbourhood after crossing a bridge in another apparent attempt to reach the square.

The protest at Taksim's Gezi Park started late on Monday after trees were torn up under a government redevelopment plan, but has widened into a broader demonstration against what they say is the authoritarianism of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Medics said close to 1,000 people were injured in the clashes in Istanbul on Friday, the fiercest anti-government demonstrations for years. Half a dozen lost eyes after being hit by gas canisters, the Turkish Doctors' Association said.

The U.S. State Department said it was concerned by the number of injuries while Amnesty International and the European parliament raised concern about excessive use of police force. Interior Minister Muammer Guler said allegations that police had used disproportionate force would be investigated.

Protests erupted in the capital Ankara and the Aegean coastal city of Izmir late on Friday and there were calls on social media for similar demonstrations in more than a dozen cities on Saturday.