Thousands of demonstrators continued the sit-in in Taksim's Gezi Park on a third day, which opened with a harsh police raid. Police used water cannons and fired tear gas in a bid to quell escalating anti-government protests in Istanbul and Ankara.
On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an immediate end to the protests that were triggered by government redevelopment plans of a park in Istanbul's Taksim Square.
Demonstrations to prevent the demolition of a park on Istanbul's Taksim Square, which is due to be replaced with a shopping mall, entered their third day with police using tear gas at the break of dawn. However, the attack seems to have backfired, triggering more participation in the demonstrations during the day, which continued peacefully and festively.
A group of young demonstrators, who spent a third night in Taksim Gezi Park in an effort to halt the controversial demolition, woke up engulfed in huge clouds of tear gas fired by the police at 5 a.m. this morning. One demonstrator was hospitalized after the police’s attack.
The police used the Mass Incident Intervention Vehicle (TOMA) to disperse the demonstrators in the park, before seizing their tents. Some of the tents were burnt in the park, as the demonstrators remonstrated with civilian police officers for burning their tents.
After the police’s attack, the demolition vehicles resumed their work. One demonstrator who lay in front of a vehicle was forcibly removed.
Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Taksim Square, said there was growing momentum against Erdogan:
"What protesters are telling us here is that they are angry about what they are describing as the stubborn reaction of the prime minister and the heavy-handed tactics of his police force.
"The protesters have been directing their anger both at the PM and also at the media. They say the media has sold out and is not covering these events."
One of the protesters told Al Jazeera: "It started with us defending the last bit of green space we have left. We have been gassed, we have been clubbed, and we have been hospitalised."