Turkish police enter Taksim Square

Hundreds of Turkish police in riot gear entered Istanbul’s Taksim Square early Tuesday, firing tear gas and a water cannon at a small number of anti-government protesters.

Some demonstrators threw stones, fireworks and firebombs at police, despite urgings by authorities to stop their attacks. Earlier, demonstrators had manned barricades and prepared for a possible intervention when security forces began massing in the area.

Police removed the protesters’ banners that had hung from a building overlooking the square, replacing it with a Turkish flag.

The police move came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to meet with the anti-government protesters Wednesday.

On Monday, protesters refused to back down when police began using tear gas and water cannons to break up an anti-government march in Istanbul. Demonstrators responded with rocks and gasoline bombs.

Three people have died since the marches began almost two weeks ago. Thousands have been hurt and thousands of others arrested.

The opposition party accuses Mr. Erdogan of fueling tensions and dragging the country into fire.

The protests started against plans to tear down a public park in Istanbul. They have since turned into protests against what marchers call the prime minister’s imposition of his Islamist views on a secular nation.

Source: VOANews.com

(Photo: eser.karadag/flickr.com)