Tuesday 17 October 2017

Turkey PM appeals for calm after protesters clash with police as riots enter fourth day

Nick Tattersall

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called for calm today, after a weekend of fierce anti-government protests, urging people not to be provoked by demonstrations he said had been organised by "extremist elements".

"Be calm, relax, all this will be overcome," Erdogan told a news conference at Istanbul airport before his planned departure on an official visit to Morocco.

Protesters clashed with riot police into the early hours of today, with some setting fire to offices of the ruling AK Party as the fiercest anti-government demonstrations in years entered their fourth day.

Turkey's streets were calm in the morning after a night of noisy protests and violence in major cities.

In the western port city of Izmir, protesters threw fire bombs at AK Party offices overnight and television footage showed part of the building ablaze. Firefighters put out the fire, the Dogan news agency reported.

Bus shelters, paving stones and street signs ripped up by protesters to make barricades that littered a major avenue by the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul where some of the heaviest clashes took place overnight, and graffiti covered walls.

An anti-government protester holds a Turkish national flag with a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, on it during a demonstration in Ankara
An anti-government protester holds a Turkish national flag with a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, on it during a demonstration in Ankara

Roads around Erdogan's office in Istanbul were sealed off as police fired teargas to push back protesters in the early hours of today.

In the main street near Erdogan's office, one demonstrator drove a small mechanical digger towards police lines as other protesters followed behind. At a nearby mosque, medical staff including trainee doctors treated those hurt in the clashes.

Police raided a shopping complex in the centre of the capital Ankara where they believed demonstrators were sheltering, detaining several hundred.

 

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