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Uneasy quiet

ANKARA — There is an uneasy calm in central Istanbul after a night of clashes which saw Turkish riot police disperse anti-government demonstrators.

Taksim Square, the focus of days of protest, is now largely cleared.

But protesters have regrouped in nearby Gezi Park. Its proposed redevelopment sparked anger that has widened into nationwide anti-government unrest.

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said there will be no tolerance of people he accuses of seeking to harm Turkey.

The demonstrators accuse Erdogan of becoming increasingly authoritarian and trying to impose conservative Islamic values on a secular state.

Erdogan is due to meet a group of people – including an actress, a singer and a writer – who he hopes can mediate with the protesters.

It had been suggested he would hold talks with protest organisers, but they told the BBC that they had not been approached by the prime minister – and would refuse to meet him even if they were.

They added that they did not recognise any of the group that Erdogan was due to meet as representatives of the protesters.

In Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, thousands of lawyers turned out to protest against the detention on Tuesday of at least 40 of their colleagues who had gathered to express their opposition to the police action.

Throughout yesterday, riot police had repeatedly clashed with protesters, throwing bottles, stones and firebombs. Many peaceful demonstrators were also caught in the clashes.

Thousands converged on the square as night fell and were repelled by water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Dispersed demonstrators sought shelter nearby, including in Gezi Park. Police said they did not plan to enter the park.

Volunteers set up makeshift clinics to treat the injured.

Security forces cleared the square, only for the demonstrators to return. (BBC)

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