Turkish police have fired tear gas at thousands of angry protesters who descended on Istanbul’s Taksim Square on the evening of June 11, just hours after authorities had reclaimed the area from encamped demonstrators.
Early on June 11, hundreds of police, firing tear gas and stun grenades and using water cannons, stormed the square -- the epicenter of the nationwide protest movement – after pulling out more than a week ago.
The police deployment caught the protesters by surprise.
But the demonstrators regrouped by the evening to confront the police lines.
The protests are the most significant challenge to the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) since it came to power a decade ago.
Erdogan on June 11 told lawmakers in the capital, Ankara, that the demonstrations have been hijacked by people with destructive political agendas. He described them as "efforts to distort Turkey's image [which] have been put in place as part of a systematic plan."
WATCH: Erdogan calls on protesters to quit
He called on demonstrators to withdraw from Gezi Park, located in Taksim Square, where the protests had initially begun.
"I urge the young people, who I believe are there with sincere feelings, to put an end to this protest," he said. "And I call on those who insist on continuing: This is over. We won't put up with this any longer."
The prime minister said some people took advantage of the protests to cause vandalism, damaging public and private properties and businesses in Istanbul and Ankara. Erdogan said the events targeted Turkey’s economy.
Erdogan has agreed to meet on June 12 with antigovernment protesters, who see his rule as increasingly authoritarian.
But he said protesters with "legitimate" demands should not be confused with those who want to damage Turkey’s image.
Here's a view of the days events through the Tweets of activists and journalists on the scene in Istanbul:
Erdogan also criticized some foreign media for what he described as spreading misinformation about the events in Taksim Square.
The protests erupted on May 31 after a violent police crackdown on protesters demonstrating against a construction project in Gezi Park.
With reporting by Reuters
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and the BBC