Istanbul’s Taksim Square was filled with tear gas as Turkish riot police surprised anti-government protesters with a major show of force to clear the area.
Until just before dawn officers fought running battles with pockets of protesters ratcheting up tensions almost two weeks after the demonstrations began.
It appears the patience of Turkey’s prime minister and his government has run out with the governor of Istanbul appearing to television to declare that police operations would continue until the square was cleared.
“Until the Taksim area is totally cleared from the marginal groups and re-opened to public, we will continue to take action day and night and I want everyone to help our police while we take these measures,” said Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu.
Police also fired water canon to disperse protesters in the centre of the capital, Ankara.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly dismissed the protesters as “riff-raff“and hooligans and has declared he will not yield . However today he is due to meet leaders of the Gezi Park Platform group whose peaceful campaign spiralled into the current violent unrest.