Reports: Turkish police begin leaving Istanbul square after second day of clashes
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan calls for an immediate end to the fiercest anti-government demonstrations for years, as thousands of protesters clashed with riot police in Istanbul and Ankara.
Turkey's state-run agency said on Saturday that police have begun withdrawing from a main Istanbul square and have allowed thousands of protesters in.
Private Dogan news agency said police on Saturday removed barricades placed around the square to prevent anti-government protests.
The Anadolu Agency says police were leaving Taksim square, after brief scuffles with protesters who hurled fireworks at withdrawing officers.
Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called for an immediate end to the fiercest anti-government demonstrations for years, as thousands of protesters clashed with riot police in Istanbul and Ankara for a second day.
The unrest was triggered by government plans for a replica Ottoman-era barracks housing shops or apartments in Istanbul's Taksim Square, long a venue for political protest, but has widened into a broader show of defiance against Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Police fired teargas and water cannon down a major shopping street as crowds of protesters chanting "unite against fascism" and "government resign" marched towards Taksim, where hundreds were injured in clashes on Friday.
A police helicopter buzzed overhead as groups of mostly young men and women, bandanas or surgical masks tied around their mouths, used Facebook and Twitter on mobile phones to try to organize and regroup in side streets.
Waiters scurried out of luxury hotels lining the square, on what should be a busy weekend for tourists in one of the world's most visited cities, ferrying lemons to protesters, who squirted the juice in their eyes to mitigate the effects of tear gas.
"People from different backgrounds are coming together. This has become a protest against the government, against Erdogan taking decisions like a king," said Oral Goktas, a 31-year old architect among a peaceful crowd walking towards Taksim.