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Erdogan Supporters Gather As Police Clash With His Critics

Antigovernment protesters were camped out in tents at the Gezi Park, near Taksim Square in Istanbul, on June 14, one day before police cleared the area.
Clashes have continued between antigovernment protesters and Turkish authorities following raids to clear out demonstrators at the heart of a dispute in the capital that has sparked two weeks of unrest.

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons in Istanbul to try to prevent government opponents from regrouping, after similar tactics were used to clear a city park.

Thousands of supporters of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party were meanwhile gathering for a rally elsewhere in the city later in the day.

Erdogan was scheduled to deliver a speech at that event, in an area of Istanbul about 10 kilometers away from Taksim Square.

The main group organizing the anti-Erdogan protests said hundreds of protesters were injured when police stormed Gezi Park, on the edge of the same square, on June 15.

The Istanbul governor said 44 were injured, none of them seriously.

The protests at Gezi Park began two weeks ago as demonstrations against a redevelopment project but escalated into the biggest unrest since Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government came to power a decade ago.

Police swept through the area on June 15 after a group of protesters vowed to stay at the park despite Erdogan's promise to suspend redevelopment plans pending a court ruling and a referendum.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa