Fireworks thrown by anti-government protesters explode near
riot policemen during a demonstration in Istanbul.
A protester in Istanbul has died from a head injury and a
police officer has had a fatal heart attack during Turkey's
worst day of civil unrest since anti-government protests swept
the nation last summer, local media say.
Riot police clashed with demonstrators in several Turkish
cities on Wednesday as mourners buried a teenager, wounded in
the protests last June, whose death this week after nine
months in a coma sparked a fresh wave of disturbances.
A defiant Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, already battling a
damaging corruption scandal weeks ahead of elections, cast
the latest unrest as part of a plot against the state.
Police fired water cannon, tear gas and rubber pellets on a
major Istanbul avenue to stop tens of thousands of protesters
from reaching the central Taksim square. There were similar
scenes in the centre of the capital Ankara and in the Aegean
coastal city of Izmir.
Officers in riot gear chased pockets of protesters into side
streets late into the night.
"There were two groups attacking the police and one youth
suffered a head injury ... and lost his life," Aziz Babuscu,
the ruling AK Party's Istanbul provincial head, told CNN Turk
Hospital sources and local media in the eastern province of
Tunceli, which also saw protests on Wednesday, said a police
officer died after suffering a heart attack during the
The death on Tuesday of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, who got
caught up in street battles in Istanbul between police and
protesters last June while going to buy bread for his family,
has hit a raw nerve with many Turks.
Crowds chanting "Tayyip! Killer!" held up photos of Elvan
earlier in the day as his coffin, draped in red and covered
in flowers, was carried through the streets of Istanbul's
working class Okmeydani district for burial.
Those attending the protests said Erdogan's silence on
Elvan's death, in contrast to President Abdullah Gul and
other public figures who issued messages of condolence,
highlighted how out of touch he was with a large segment of
But the turbulent run-up to municipal elections on March 30
has shown little sign so far of seriously weakening Erdogan,
whose AK Party dominates Turkey's electoral map and who
remains fiercely popular in the conservative Anatolian
heartlands after overseeing a decade of rising prosperity.
"Does democracy come with Molotov cocktails?," Erdogan told
throngs of cheering supporters said at a campaign rally in
the southeastern city of Siirt, weeks ahead of an election
that is widely being seen as a referendum on his rule.
"The path of democracy is the ballot box. If you have the
power, go to the ballot box," he said.