Turkey: Police crack down on protesters in mining tragedy town

Turkey: Police crack down on protesters in mining tragedy town
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Police on Friday fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets on thousands of protesters shouting anti-government slogans in Soma, the scene of Turkey’s worst-ever mining tragedy.

With the death toll from the disaster now close to 300, there is no let-up in anger, aimed at authorities accused of ignoring repeated warnings to improve mining safety.

Several people were injured in the clashes.

They came shortly after the mine operator defended its safety record in a news conference, following a wave of angry protests over the accident, nationwide.

In Istanbul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended symbolic funeral prayers. He was accompanied to the mosque by the aide who was pictured apparently kicking a protester in Soma earlier this week.

The premier is also accused of lashing out at the crowd while visiting the western town, where he told grieving inhabitants that mining accidents happen everywhere.

With over 280 men confirmed dead and 18 others unaccounted for in Tuesday’s tragedy, the people of Soma feel helpless and dismayed.

“I wish I was dead myself,” said one inhabitant, Aykut Baglan. “We have been on the streets ever since the accident. I can’t remember what I have eaten. I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know where I am.”

An explosion, fire and deadly carbon monoxide gas robbed this close-knit community of so many of its sons. Those who mourn them insist they deserve answers.

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