Istanbul rocked by violent protests

July 27, 2015

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Istanbul: Left-wing activists protect themselves as anti-riot police personnel fire water cannon to disperse a demonstration in Istanbul’s Gazi district on Sunday.—AFP
Istanbul: Left-wing activists protect themselves as anti-riot police personnel fire water cannon to disperse a demonstration in Istanbul’s Gazi district on Sunday.—AFP

ISTANBUL: Turkish protesters battled security forces on Sunday in intense clashes in a flashpoint Istanbul district where a leftist activist was killed during police raids earlier this week, a photographer said.

Protesters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at the police who responded with water cannon, plastic bullets and tear gas.

Some protesters then fortified their positions by erecting barricades in the middle of the street, the photographer said.

The situation was so tense that police were no longer patrolling the area on foot, instead keeping inside their armoured vehicles.

Protesters wrapped handkerchiefs around their noses and mouths to protect themselves from the tear gas, while others wore gas masks. Some took to roofs to throw Molotov cocktails onto the police from above.

Some tried to use a giant umbrella advertising a well known ice cream brand to protect themselves from the water cannon. But the force of the spray destroyed the umbrella, knocking protesters over.

The district, which lies well north of the city centre of Istanbul, has been tense since the killing of Gunay Ozarslan on Friday during nationwide police raids against suspected militants.

The raids were part of a nationwide crackdown on suspected militants as Turkish armed forces pounded targets of the Islamic State group (IS) in Syria and Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

The Gazi district is known as a stronghold of Turkey’s Alevi community.

Strong supporters of secular principles, many are bitter opponents of the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2015

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