Turkish police fired teargas at protesters in Ankara on Sunday while thousands of people occupied Istanbuls main Taksim Square on the third day of mass demonstrations against Turkeys Islamist-rooted government.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler said more than 1,700 people had been arrested in the unrest that has spread to 67 cities nationwide,though most have since been released.
In Istanbul,a sea of protesters from across Turkeys political spectrum flooded Taksim a day after police pulled out of the area,waving flags and chanting Government,Resign! and Istanbul is ours,Taksim is ours!.
Taksim has been at the heart of a wave of protests that have spread across the country in the biggest public outcry against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogans government since it took power in 2002.
After two days of violence,the situation appeared to have calmed in Istanbul Sunday after police pulled out of Taksim and officials adopted a more conciliatory tone. But in Ankara police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse some 1,000 protesters who were attempting to march on the prime ministers high-security office.
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The continuation of these protests… will bring no benefits but will harm the reputation of our country which is admired both in the region and the world, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Twitter. Authorities say almost 100 police vehicles,94 shops and dozens of cars have been damaged.
They call me a dictator, Erdogan said in a speech Sunday. If they liken a humble servant to a dictator,then I am at a loss for words. He had insisted on Saturday that his government would press ahead with the controversial redevelopment near Taksim although he said the project may not include a shopping mall,as feared by protesters.
Amnesty International said some protesters had been left blinded by the massive use of teargas and pepper spray.