Police retreat from Istanbul square

2013-06-01 18:36

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Istanbul - Turkish police retreated from a main Istanbul square on Saturday, removing barricades and allowing in thousands of demonstrators in a move to calm tensions after furious anti-government protests turned the city center into a battlefield.

A second day of national protests over a violent police raid of an anti-development sit-in in Taksim square has revealed the depths of anger against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Many Turks view him as increasingly authoritarian and dismissive of opposing views.

Even as he appeared to relent to demonstrators by pulling back police and offering some concessions, Erdogan remained defiant, insisting that the demonstrations were illegitimate and promising to move ahead with redevelopment of the square.

He challenged protesters that he could easily summon a million people for a pro-government rally.

As police retreated on Saturday, some protesters hurled objects at officers and police vehicles, prompting police to fire several rounds of tear gas, the private Dogan news agency reported. The state-run Anadolu Agency said protesters threw fireworks at police.

Police also withdrew from a protest in Ankara, the capital.

Protesters who had camped out at Taksim were angry over the planned removal of trees in the square, one of the few bits of green in sprawling Istanbul.

Officials are planning to build a shopping mall and rebuild a former Ottoman army barracks.

In another gesture to placate protesters, Erdogan said that police may have used tear gas excessively while confronting protesters.

The interior ministry said police officers who abused their power would be punished.

The United States, Britain and Sweden were among countries that asked citizens to stay away from areas where protests were held.

Read more on:    turkey  |  turkey protests

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