Police clash with protesters in Ankara, Istanbul

Demonstrations re-sparked after court releases officer accused of killing activist

Riot police gather in Gezi park, engulfed in tear gas, in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, June 15, 2013 (photo credit: AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Riot police gather in Gezi park, engulfed in tear gas, in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, June 15, 2013 (photo credit: AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

ISTANBUL (AP) — Thousands of protesters returned to Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Saturday, demanding justice for a demonstrator slain by police fire during demonstrations that have swept Turkey this month. Police later forced the protesters out of the square, pushing them back using their shields.

In the capital, Ankara, police fired tear gas and pressurized water to break up a similar protest by a group of about 200 people, the Dogan news agency reported.

Turkey has been hit by a wave of protests this month that were ignited by a brutal police crackdown on a peaceful environmental sit-in at a park near Taksim. The demonstrations soon turned into a wide outpouring of discontent with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. Four people — three demonstrators and one police officer — have been killed and thousands injured.

The demonstrations have largely subsided in recent days, but thousands converged back on the square on Saturday, angry over a court decision this week that released a police officer from custody pending his trial for the killing of a protester in Ankara.

The protesters also denounced the killing of a Kurdish demonstrator by paramilitary police in a mainly Kurdish town on Friday.

Police allowed protesters to chant slogans for some two hours before issuing a warning for them to disperse. They then moved in, pushing the crowd away from the square. They arrested several people in the process, including some foreign nationals, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Earlier Saturday, hundreds in southeast Turkey attended the funeral of the Kurdish youth, who was shot while protesting the construction of a military post. Eight other people were injured in the same protest when security forces fired on them in the mainly Kurdish town of Lice.

The government said it had launched an investigation into the incident, which came as autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels are withdrawing from Turkey as part of peace talks with the Turkish government.

A rebel commander last week criticized Turkish government efforts to build new military posts amid the peace efforts.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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