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Istanbul warzone: Thousands of protesters try to reclaim Taksim Square

Istanbul warzone: Thousands of protesters try to reclaim Taksim Square
Riot police have fired volleys of tear gas as thousands of protesters are trying to reclaim Taksim after being forced out in fierce clashes with law enforcement. Thick smoke blankets the square.

Turkish riot police are driving thousands into narrow side streets, Reuters report citing witnesses, with water cannon vehicles advanced across the square. Struggling to disperse the crowd, riot police  water- cannoned a disabled protester who was unable to leave Taksim. 

Protesters clash with riot police at Taksim square in Istanbul on June 11, 2013. (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

Barrage of gas being fired. About one canister every three seconds at the moment.

— Simon Johns (@simonwjohns) June 11, 2013

Protesters clash with riot police at Taksim square in Istanbul on June 11, 2013. (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

Prior to that, protesters, mocking and calling for police to leave, confronted the forces. 

Follow RT's live updates on the Turkish protests.

Some of protesters are burning colorful flares and fireworks. Fire could be seen in a few locations across the square with the chaos raging at the cradle of the two-week long anti-government protest.

Photo: occupygezipics: Taksim Sq at 8:15 PM, Tuesday. No one knows what (if anything) prompted the police to... tmblr.co/ZHMWksn6Negj — quite contrarian (@QuiteContrarian) June 11, 2013

Chanting slogans and launching fireworks in defiance, tens of thousands eventually fled the square, according to witnesses, to Gezi Park, where tear gas canisters have also been fired. However, shortly after, Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said Taksim Square has been 'cleansed', riot police and protesters returned to Taksim with more tear gas and water cannon on site. 

"We will continue our measures in an unremitting manner, whether day or night, until marginal elements are cleared and the square is open to the people," he said in a televised announcement.

TOMA water cannon firing into Gezi now

— Tim Pool (@Timcast) June 11, 2013

 Protestors clash with Turkish riot policemen on Taksim square on June 11, 2013. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

Meanwhile, Mutlu has said police will continue operations in Taksim Square, day and night, until it is cleared, Reuters reported.

Earlier Tuesday, police and protesters clashed over a new barrier inside the square. 

Protesters clash with Turkish riot police on Taksim square in Istanbul on June 11, 2013. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

Hundreds of police took over Taksim Square, using tear gas and water cannon to oust the few protesters present there in the morning.  

The raid allowed the removal of barricades and banners. PM Erdogan praised the troops for removing the ‘rags’ as he's branded the revolutionary symbols. 

Protestors clash with Turkish riot policemen on Taksim square on June 11, 2013. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

At least 18 people were injured in Tuesday's violence, medical officials said, reporting numerous broken bones and several head injuries, AFP reports. 

An RT Spanish correspondent was in the midst of the action, doing a live report, she was also caught in the crossfire and hit by tear gas.
Following the crackdown, protesters said they have lost faith in the prospect of dialogue with Erdogan, who hours before said he would meet with protest leaders on Wednesday.

Also on Tuesday some 30 to 70 lawyers protesting against the handling of the protest were reportedly detained in front of a courtroom in Istanbul.  

Professor Huse-yin Bagchi - from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, told RT that a further escalation of the crisis in Turkey could lead to an all-out civil war. But he also said that it has always been in Erdogan's power to deflate the situation.

“I think it is wrong to bring one part of society against another part of society. In the end it can only lead to civil war”, Bagchi said. “There is a new social movement in Turkey. He has to talk to young people, meet the demands of young people. Otherwise there will be more confrontation, more unrest and more death in the coming days.”

Sharing his predictions for the following days, a young protester, Deniz Can Akkaya, explained that the government had broken a promise made only several hours earlier about not removing the barricades at Taksim. They had come back with full force a few hours later, trying to remove the protesters as well. But, as Akkaya explains - a Wednesday meeting between the PM and an Occupy Gezi representation group should yield some concrete solutions as to how to move forward.

“The PM is due to meet with a representation group in Gezi Park. Three were certain demands that the protesters put on the table. The government will discuss whether it’s possible for them to be met and what kind of concessions they’re willing to make. The meeting should be a turning point.”

The news keeps coming in as protests on the capital Ankara's streets are continuing as well. On Monday night, the police had stepped up their tactics to tear gas. As they swarmed the popular Tunali Hilmi Street, shop keepers and restaurant owners, together with their clientele, were shutting themselves in to escape the gas. There are continuing witness reports of violence continuing in the capital.

People run away as Turkish riot policemen fire tear gas on Taksim square on June 11, 2013. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

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