Thousands take to the streets in Turkey and clash with police

City A.M. Reporter
TENS of thousands of people took to the streets in cities across Turkey yesterday on the third day of the fiercest anti-government demonstrations in years.

Roads around Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s office in Istanbul were sealed off as police fired tear gas to push back protesters, and police raided a shopping mall in the capital Ankara where they believed demonstrators were sheltering, detaining hundreds.

The unrest began on Friday when trees were torn down at a park in Istanbul's main Taksim Square under government plans to redevelop the area, but widened into a broad show of defiance against the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Erdogan has insisted plans to remake the square, an iconic rallying point for mass demonstrations, would go ahead.

In an interview on Turkish television, Erdogan dismissed protestors as a “few looters”.

He also blamed the main secular opposition party for inciting the crowds’s violence and said the protests were aimed at depriving his ruling AK Party of votes as elections begin next year.