Erdogan blames ′dissidents′ as two die in Turkey protests | News | DW | 04.06.2013
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Erdogan blames 'dissidents' as two die in Turkey protests

Anti-government protests have continued in Turkey despite a claim from the country’s premier that things were calming down. Two people were killed.

Riot police used tear gas and water cannon to try to break up a protest involving hundreds of people near Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office in the capital, Ankara, late on Monday.

Clashes were also reported in a number of other cities including Istanbul, where protesters at the main Taksim Square chanted slogans demanding that the prime minister resign.

At least two protesters have been killed. The first victim died after a vehicle slammed into a crowd in Istanbul, according to the Turkish Doctors' Union. Hundreds of protesters are said to have been injured in several days of clashes.

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Unrest continues in Turkey

A second victim died in the southern city of Antakya, near the Syrian border, after being shot by an unidentified person.

Earlier on Monday, the minister accused what he described as "dissidents" of organizing the unrest, while at the same time claiming that the unrest was abating.

"The situation is now calming down... On my return from this visit, the problems will be solved," Erdogan told reporters in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, where he had traveled to on Monday on a four-day visit to North Africa. "The [opposition] Republican People's Party and other dissidents have a hand in these events," he said.

The demonstrations started on Friday over plans to redevelop a park in Istanbul, but they quickly developed into a more general expression of discontent with Erdogan's government after police moved to break up an initial protest.

Allies express concerns

Meanwhile, a trade unions' umbrella group has called a two-day strike, to begin on Tuesday, to protest against the police crackdown on what began as a peaceful protest.

The United States on Monday expressed concern about the reports of police using excessive force against demonstrators.

"We obviously hope that there will be a full investigation of those incidents and full restraint from the police force," US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Earlier in the day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the Turkish authorities to exercise restraint.

"The time for de-escalation and dialogue is now," Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin. "It is important in the current tense situation that all parties exhibit prudence. The right of citizens to freedom of expression and assembly is a clear fundamental right in a democracy."

pfd, ng/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa

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