Turkish Riot Police Overrun Taksim Square
Related video report by Jeff Custer
ISTANBUL — Turkish riot police pushed through barricades at Istanbul's Taksim Square on Tuesday, firing tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of protesters.
Police moved into Taksim, the center of more than 10 days of anti-government protest, after dawn. Some demonstrators threw stones, fireworks and firebombs at police. In Turkey's largest city, police moved against protesters in a square that has been the center of nationwide unrest against the government. The move comes as the prime minister is due to meet with demonstrators Wednesday.
In the heart of Istanbul, city police fought running battles with protesters. The unrest erupted when security forces using large amounts tear gas moved against demonstrators gathered in Taksim Square.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously called the demonstrators "looters," warning them that his patience was limited. But his deputy confirmed that the prime minister had agreed to meet the protesters.
Watch Videoclip: Turkey demonstration
The square along with the adjacent Gezi Park has been the center of 11 days of nationwide unrest against the government. The initial protest was against government plans to redevelop Gezi Park but has increasingly focused on what demonstrators claim is the increasingly authoritarian rule of the prime minister.
The police, while generally refraining from direct confrontation, are resorting mainly to firing tear gas at the crowds - while backed by armored cars using water cannon.
Several demonstrators were injured Tuesday with some being rushed unconscious to a first aid center in Gezi Park. The demonstrators have repeatedly accused the police of firing gas canisters directly into the crowd. Many demonstrators voiced anger over the tactics. One of them said, "I feel I am facing fascism for the first time in my life. I have been reading about fascism. I have seen movies about fascism. But I did not live it. Now I am living it."
More than 5,000 people have been injured and three people have died since the protests began.
The latest police action in Istanbul has - for at least one protester - ended any trust in the prime minister.
A protester makes the victory sign as he sits outside Gezi Park in front of riot police vehicles at Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 14, 2013.
Protesters watch a film in Gezi Park in Istanbul, June 14, 2013.
German pianist Davide Martello is surrounded by anti-government protesters as he performs in Istanbul's Taksim Square, June 13, 2013.
Protesters stand in front of a barricade at Gezi park, Istanbul, June 13, 2013.
Taksim Square is flooded by tear gas during clashes between protesters and riot police, Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
Police operate during clashes at Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
A protester tries to take cover from a water cannon fired by police during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
A protester throws a tear gas canister back at police during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
A protester throws a gas bomb towards riot police during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
A protester throws a petrol bomb towards a crowd control vehicle in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
A crowd control vehicle fires a water cannon against protesters in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
A protester walks in front of a burning barricade during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
Protesters carry another protester affected by tear gas during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
"I was hoping there would be a solution for peace but now we see the policemen. We can trust no one and we feel really lonely," said the protester.
It remains unclear whether the police crackdown will affect the planned Wednesday meeting between the prime minister and protesters.