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Turkey

Anti-government protesters clash with police in Turkey over corruption scandal

Turkish police have clashed with protesters denouncing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government. The latest protests were sparked by a corruption scandal that has led to the arrest of dozens of Erdogan allies.

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters in Istanbul on Sunday.

Thousands gathered in and around the city's Kadikov Square, where a protest against government construction plans had been scheduled to take place, to call for the resignation of government ministers implicated in the far-reaching corruption and bribery scandal.

"Everywhere is [Erdogan's] AK Party, everywhere is corruption," protesters chanted in a reference to the slogan of the summer's mass anti-government protests centered on Istanbul's Taksim Square: "Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance."

Twenty-four people have been formally charged in connection with the graft probe this week, including the sons of Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan. The chief executive of state-owned Halkbank, Suleyman Aslan, has almost been charged.

Erdogan insists the allegations are part of a "dirty operation" designed to undermine his government, which has been in power since 2002. He has responded by sacking dozens of police officials, including Istanbul's police chief, for cooperating with the investigation without permission.

The corruption scandal is the second major crisis to beset Erdogan this year, following the mass anti-government rallies in June sparked by a police crackdown on a peaceful sit-in against plan to develop an Istanbul park.

The unrest quickly evolved into three-week protests against Erdogan's Islamist leaning government, which demonstrators accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian. At least six people were killed and 8,000 injured in clashes with police.

ccp/jm (AFP, Reuters, AP)