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Turkey's Deputy PM Apologizes for Police Crackdown

Thousands of Turkish anti-government protesters marched again Tuesdaym even after the deputy prime minister said the government has "learned its lesson."

Demonstrators filled central Ankara and the main square in Istanbul as night fell Tuesday, defying government appeals to end their protests.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said it was wrong to use "excessive force" against the marchers. But he refused to apologize to those who he says have destroyed property and interfered with people's freedom.

Two people have died and hundreds of police and civilians have been injured since the protests began last Friday as a sit-in against plans to tear down a public park in Istanbul.

The march has since escalated into a show of anger at the ruling party and accusations that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is imposing his Islamic views on a secular nation.



Mr. Erdogan has dismissed the protests as bitterness by the opposition over lost elections. He said the protesters are walking arm-in-arm with terrorists and that they have no support among most Turks.

OPTIONAL SOUNDBITE

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER BULENT ARINC :
"The use of excessive force shown against the people who initially started this protest with the motive of protecting the environment was wrong. And it was unfair. So I apologize to those citizens, I can definitely say that. But I do not think we need to apologize to those who create destruction of public property in the streets and who try to prevent the freedom of the people in the streets.''

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