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Taksim Square Warzone: Riot Police Tear Gas on Turkey Protests

Turkey Protests Taksim Square

People run away as Turkish riot policemen fire tear gas on Taksim square

Tear gas smoke rose from Istanbul’s Taksim Square as Turkish riot police violently attempted to break up an anti-government protests. Tourist fled hotels near the square covering their mouths with napkins while hundreds of protestors (many wearing gas masks) joined to charge towards police. Riot police have fired volleys of tear gas as thousands of protesters are trying to reclaim Taksim after being forced out in fierce clashes with law enforcement. Stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons have also been used by security forces to regain control of the square. Molotov cocktails and rocks whizzed towards police as protestors retaliated. Fireworks — a sign of defiance — flew threw the air. When the sun set, protesters fed fires that ravaged throughout the square. Taksim Square has been an important venue for political protests during much of its existence and since the beginning of the recent anti-government protests the square has been occupied by demonstrators sleeping in tents.

According to Reuters, Istanbul’s mayor has said police will continue operation in Taksim Swuare, day and night, until it is cleared.

Turkish Protest Taksim square

Turkey’s prime minister said Monday that he was planning on meeting with a group of protesters occupying Istanbul’s central Taksim Square this week.

Hundreds of troops arrived at the square early in the morning when there were not a lot of people. With tear gas, the police were able to disperse the protestors — leaving the area where thousands of protestors had been gathered, empty. But clashes intensified throughout the day as demonstrators started to work their way back into the Square. Now, the surrounding streets has become a place of serious confrontation. According to RT crew at the scene:

“There are serious clashes in the small streets surrounding the square. They are running after each other tossing stones, bottles and smoke grenades there. It’s a real meat grinder in there,”

This marks the return of heavy-handed tactics by Turkish authorities used during the earlier days of Turkish protests. Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised the police operation and urged the protesters to leave the streets. He said: “I request all activists to see the big picture, understand the plot, and withdraw from the streets.” Turkey’s most widespread anti-government protests in decades erupted on May 31 after a police crackdown on a peaceful sit-in by protesters objecting to a project replacing a park with a replica Ottoman-era barracks.

This is a breaking story, check back for updates.

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