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Turkish Anti-Government Activists Protest for 3rd Day

Turkish anti-government activists have rallied in major cities for a third day as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed those involved in violent protests as "looters."

At least 1,500 demonstrators attempted to march in the capital, Ankara, prompting police to fire tear gas to break up the gathering. Hundreds of activists also returned to Istanbul's Taksim Square, the focal point of more than 90 anti-government protests across Turkey on Friday and Saturday.

Rights activists said hundreds of people were injured as police responded with tear gas and water canon, and some demonstrators fought back in the first two days of protests, the most violent in Turkey in years.

The Turkish government said only 26 police officers and 53 civilians were hurt. Authorities arrested almost 1,000 people, but later released many of them.

Mr. Erdogan rejected the protesters' demand for the government to stop an urban redevelopment plan on parkland. Speaking Sunday, he said he will not seek permission from a "handful of looters" to proceed with the projects, which will include a new mosque.



Taksim Square was calmer on Sunday, with many protesters chanting slogans also demanding Mr. Erdogan's resignation and appearing to be in a festive mood as police stayed away.

The police crackdown on protesters in Istanbul appeared to anger many secular Turks who accuse Mr. Erdogan's decade-old Islamist-rooted government of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

International rights groups strongly criticized the crackdown as excessive, while Turkey's Western allies urged the government to uphold freedom of expression and exercise restraint.

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