ANKARA, June 2 (RIA Novosti) - Almost a thousand of people were detained and 79 injured in Turkey when police attempted to disperse nationwide anti-government protests, Interior Minister Muammer Guler told a news conference on Saturday evening.
The planned demolition of Gezi Park in central Istanbul sparked large-scale protests in the city on Saturday, prompting police to use tear gas. The controversial project is aimed at easing congestion around Taksim Square but also involves rebuilding old Ottoman barracks and creating a shopping mall in the park, one of the few green areas left in central Istanbul.
The rally in Istanbul triggered more than 90 separate protests in 48 out of the country’s 81 provinces.
“At the moment, 939 people were detained in various provinces since the start of the unrest over the Gezi Park issue. Some of them have already been released,” Guler said. “A total of 26 police officers and 53 civilians were injured during the riots. Nineteen of them are in intensive care in Istanbul, others receive medical treatment in their locations.”
Unrest still continues in Ankara, Antalya, Istanbul, Izmir and other Turkish cities.
According to the Hurriyet daily, about 20,000 people took to the streets in Ankara, protesting against the government’s policies and demanding resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Troops were deployed to keep protestors away from the premier’s residence.
“The Gezi park is just a small part of misdemeanors committed by Erdogan’s government. Erdogan is a dictator, we demand him to resign. Protests will continue tomorrow,” a protestor, who identified herself as Sevil, told RIA Novosti.