Turkish police and anti-government protesters clashed again in Istanbul early today,as the reported death toll from nationwide protests rose to two.
One of the country’s main trades union confederations meanwhile called a two-day strike from today in protest at the government crackdown on demonstrators which it denounced as “state terror”.
In Istanbul,riot police fired tear gas at protestors who burned cars,hurled stones and bellowed angry slogans into the early hours of Tuesday. Similar scenes played out in the capital Ankara.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan,who had already left on a trip to Morocco,however insisted the situation was calming down. He rejected talk of a “Turkish Spring” uprising by Turks who accuse him of trying to impose Islamic reforms on the secular state.
The clashes,which have rocked scores of cities across Turkey,entered a fifth day today.
In Istanbul,riot police played cat and mouse with thousands of protestors massing near Erdogan’s office and the nearby stadium of Besiktas football team into the early hours.
Reporters saw many demonstrators being carried away by medics. As white fumes hung in the air in surrounding streets,thousands of other protestors gathered on Taksim Square,the symbolic heart of the protests.
“Tayyip,resign!” they yelled,waving red flags and banners and whistling.
In Ankara,police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of protestors early Tuesday.
Erdogan has blamed the protests on “extremists” and “dissidents” among his opponents.
“The situation is now calming down… On my return from this visit,the problems will be solved,” he told reporters in Rabat.
“The Republican People’s Party and other dissidents have a hand in these events,” he said,referring to the main Turkish opposition.
A medics’ union yesterday said a man had been killed when a car ploughed into protestors in Istanbul on Sunday.
And early today,private television station NTV reported that a 22-year-old man had died after being shot in the head in Hatay province,in the south of the country.
Abdullah Comert had died in hospital on Monday,it said,citing a statement from the local governor’s office.
The wave of protests began after police cracked down at what demonstrators insist was a peaceful protest in Istanbul against plans to build over Gezi Park,a rare green spot adjoining Taksim Square.
That generated wider anti-government protests in Istanbul,Ankara and dozens of other cities.
Rights groups and doctors said more than a thousand people had been injured in clashes in Istanbul and 700 in Ankara.