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Turkey

Thousands mourn death of man killed in Istanbul, as clashes continue

Thousands of mourners have paid their respects to a man killed in clashes between police and anti-government demonstrators in Istanbul. This came a day before Prime Minister Erdogan is to address supporters in Germany.

Mourners who marched alongside the body of 30-year-old Ugur Kurt, who was killed in crossfire between police and demonstrators on Thursday, chanted slogans such as "murderer state" or "you will be accountable to us." There were also more clashes on Friday, with police using tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protesters.

Meanwhile, the governor of Istanbul, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, said that a second man had died of injuries he suffered when a grenade went off.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was defiant in his response, describing the protesters as "terrorists" and defending the actions of police.

"I don't understand how police can maintain their patience," he said in a speech to lawmakers from his AK Party on Friday. "When these terrorists are smashing windows, how can police wait with their hands tied?"

The latest demonstrations were to commemorate the death of a 15-year-old youth who died in March from wounds received in clashes with police last year. Protesters also vented their anger at Erdogan and his government about a recent mining disaster in the western town of Soma in which 301 people died.

Speech in Germany

Meanwhile, police in the western German city of Cologne are gearing up to provide security when Erdogan addresses his supporters in an indoor sports stadium there. While he speaks inside, tens of thousands of others are expected to turn out to an anti-Erdogan demonstration planned for Saturday.

In the week leading up to the event, several German politicians have called on him to cancel the trip, fearing his appearance could stoke tensions among the local Turkish population.

Some have also accused him of seeking to use the event to make a campaign speech, amid much speculation that he plans to run in Turkey's presidential election in August. However, he has not yet announced his candidacy.

For the first time, Turkish citizens living abroad, including around 1.5 million in Germany, will be eligible to vote in the presidential election.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has also weighed in on the debate, telling the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper on Thursday that she was confident that Erdogan would choose his words on Saturday with a sense of "responsibility and sensitivity."

pfd/jr (AFP, dpa)

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