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Turkey

Turkish riot police use water cannon to break up protests

Turkish police have broken up the latest protest against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The demonstration was on a much smaller square than those that gripped the country several weeks ago.

Police wearing riot gear used water cannon, tear gas, and rubber bullets to disperse a few hundred protesters who had gathered in a pedestrian shopping area near Taksim Square on Saturday night. Many bars and restaurants are located on Istikal Caddesi street, which is usually full of both locals and foreign tourists on the weekend.

Even prior to the start of the demonstration, there were a high number of riot police present in the area, apparently aware of the plans of activists, who had used social media web sites to call for the rally.

Around 10 people were reported injured and several others arrested.

This was just the latest in a series of relatively small anti-government protests in Istanbul in recent weeks.

However, they have been nowhere near the scale of the demonstrations that spread across the country in late May after police used force to put down a small protest against the redevelopment of Gezi Park, near Istanbul's central Taksim Square.

The Gezi Park protest quickly developed into rallies against Prime Minister Erdogan for what the demonstrators claimed was his increasingly authoritarian style of governing.

The major protests ended after police evicted protesters who had been camped out at Gezi Park on June 15.

Five people died and thousands of others were injured in the worst unrest Turkey has seen since Erdogan first came to power a decade ago.

pfd/av (Reuters, dpa, AFP)