ISTANBUL, Turkey – Thousands of defiant protesters attempting to converge on central Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Sunday were kept away by police firing repeated rounds of tear gas, as the government maintained a hard line against rekindled demonstrations.
Across the city, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s supporters gathered in their thousands for a campaign-style rally as he sought to galvanize his base after weeks of anti-government protests left his international image battered, and exposed deep rifts within Turkish society.
Police in uniform and plain clothes sealed off Taksim Square and adjacent Gezi Park, which riot police cleared of thousands of peaceful protesters in a swift but muscular operation Saturday evening. Crews worked through the night to remove all traces of a sit-in that started more than two weeks ago and became the focus of the strongest challenge to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his 10 years in office.
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