29 injured in Turkish police crackdown on protesters in Istanbul

 ISTANBUL/ANKARA, June 16 (Xinhua) -- At least 29 people were injured in police crackdown on protesters in Taksim square on Saturday evening, the Istanbul Governor's office said.None of the injured was in serious conditions, according to the source. However social media users reported that more injured people were tended by doctors and volunteers all around the square.

    Turkish police on Saturday started a crackdown with tear gas and water cannons on protesters rallying in Taksim Square located in the center of Istanbul.   Riot police entered Gezi Park and started cleansing the park where thousands of protesters had stayed for anti-government demonstrations for 18 days.
  The policemen also destroyed tents set up by the protesters; some people were injured and were taken by ambulances to a nearby hospital, according to a witness The park was evacuated as hundreds of people were driven away and more than 100 buses were waiting to take away the arrested.

The evacuation came less than an hour after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened a police crackdown on protesters if they do not leave the park on Sunday.
  "Tomorrow, we will have a rally in Istanbul. I say it to the protesters at Taksim: either they empty the park, or the security forces will do it," he said while addressing thousands of supporters gathering in solidarity with the ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara."The park belongs to the citizens of Istanbul," Erdogan said, noting that "It's not the occupied land of illegal organizations."

  Earlier on Saturday, protesters said they would not leave the park despite the government's pledge to hold a referendum on plans to redevelop the park area, local media said  Erdogan had held two meetings with organizers of the protests in Ankara, respectively on Wednesday and Thursday, in a bid to solve the crisis.

  The protests erupted over two weeks ago when a group of activists gathered in the park opposing of the government's plan to build a replica of Ottoman-era barracks in its place as part of a renewal project for the adjacent Taksim Square.Hundreds of people joined the group after police used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Shortly after, thousands of people took to the streets in Istanbul and across the country to support the demonstrators and protest the policies of Erdogan's government. Clashes between the police and protesters across Turkey have killed at least five people, including a policeman, and injured some 5,000.

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