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Turkey: Deputy PM apologises for violence against protesters

The Turkish government has this evening apologised for the use of force against protesters – but that hasn’t stopped them from demonstrating.

Ahmet Sik, a prominent Turkish journalist, holds his head after being hit by a tear gas canister after riot police clashed with demonstrators last Friday. (AP/Press Association Images)

TURKEY’S GOVERNMENT HAS apologised for the use of force against protesters in the biggest mass demonstrations of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decade in power.

Deputy Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said earlier that the government had “learnt its lesson” and regretted using security forces against people with “rightful demands.”

Arinc said clashes had left about 300 people wounded in five days although rights groups and doctors have put the number of injured in the thousands and said two people have been killed.

He called on “responsible citizens” to stop the protests, but hundreds of demonstrators defied his message and returned peacefully within hours to Taksim Square, the cradle of the protests in Istanbul.

Turkish youths shout anti-government slogans as they march in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, June 4, 2013.

Protests continue

A flag-waving crowd of mostly left-wing political activists had gathered in the afternoon and was joined at nightfall by a swarm of football supporters who marched from the stadium of local football club Besiktas.

Turkish pipe music and singing blared over speakers as the crowd clapped and danced in a markedly more festive atmosphere than the tense rallies of the past five days.

In the capital Ankara meanwhile, residents reprised their nightly protest ritual of banging pots and pans, leaning from their windows or marching in the street.

Some waved red and white Turkish flags and drivers honked their horns.

“Tayyip, resign!” they yelled.

They repeated their charges that Erdogan was imposing conservative Islamic reforms on the predominantly Muslim but constitutionally secular nation.

- © AFP, 2013

Explainer: What is going on in Turkey?

Read: Two dead in government crackdown as Turkish union calls two-day strike

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