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Erdogan blames 'extremists' for Turkey riots

Erdogan blames extremists for Turkey riots

Ankara: The Turkish prime minister has blamed 'extremist elements' for the riots that have swept his country in recent days.

Al Jazeera's Emre Temel said Tayyip Recep Erdogan on Monday also accused the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) of playing an active role and working together with ‘extremist elements’.

The prime minister said intelligence services were also investigating foreign links to the demonstrations. "People who are talking about a ‘Turkish Spring’ in their coverage of events do not know Turkey," he said.

His comments came as he prepared to fly to Morocco for the start of a tour of North Africa, with commentators expressing surprise at his decision not to cancel the trip.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press quoted the local Dogan news agency as saying that police fired tear gas at a group of protesters in an area close to Erdogan's offices in Besiktas neighbourhood of Istanbul on Monday, as anti-government demonstrations stretched into a fourth straight day. The protesters responded by hurling back stones.

However, Taksim Square, the focus of the demonstrations, was quiet in the aftermath of last night's fierce confrontations. Besiktas neighbourhood had witnessed the worst clashes as protesters used a mechanical digger to break police lines in an attempt to gain access to a government office.

Turkey's main share index fell about 8 per cent on opening on Monday as traders reacted to the protests. The Turkish lira was at an 18-month low against the US dollar.

Muammer Guler, the interior minister, told the Hurriyet newspaper that there had been more than 200 demonstrations in 67 cities.Hundreds of injuries have been reported.

Erdogan on Sunday renewed his calls for an end to the disturbances, saying: "If you love this country, if you love Istanbul, do not fall for these games."

The opposition Republican People's Party has denied involvement in the violence.

"Today the people on the street across Turkey are not exclusively from the CHP, but from all ideologies and from all parties," Mehmet Akif Hamzacebi, a senior party member, said.

The unrest erupted on Friday when trees were torn down at a park in Istanbul's main Taksim Square under government plans to redevelop the area, but widened into a broad show of defiance against the governing, Islamist-rooted AK Party.

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