Istanbul police, protesters clash in flashpoint district: AFP



ISTANBUL, TURKEY- Turkish protesters battled security forces on Sunday in intense clashes in a flashpoint Istanbul district where a leftist activist was killed during police raids earlier this week, an AFP photographer said.
Protesters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at the police who responded with water cannon, plastic bullets and tear gas.



Some protesters then fortified their positions by erecting barricades in the middle of the street, the photographer said.
The situation was so tense that police were no longer patrolling the area on foot, instead keeping inside their armoured vehicles.
Protesters wrapped handkerchiefs around their noses and mouths to protect themselves from the tear gas, while others wore gas masks. Some took to roofs to throw Molotov cocktails onto the police from above.
Some tried to use a giant umbrella advertising a well known ice cream brand to protect themselves from the water cannon. But the force of the spray destroyed the umbrella, knocking protesters over.
The district, which lies well north of the city centre of Istanbul, has been tense since the killing of Gunay Ozarslan on Friday during nationwide police raids against suspected militants.
The raids were part of a nationwide crackdown on suspected militants as Turkish armed forces pounded targets of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.
The Gazi district is known as a stronghold of Turkey's Alevi community, who adhere to an offshoot of Shia Islam.
Strong supporters of secular principles, many are bitter opponents of the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The area has been the scene of intense clashes since Friday but Sunday's rioting was some of the most serious seen so far as leftist groups from across the city joined in.
The clashes were sparked when the police moved in after activists refused to hand over the body of Ozarslan to the municipal authorities for burial.
Instead, the corpse is being kept in a local cemevi, an Alevi place of worship which the police tried to raid earlier.
The area was hit by several days of sustained rioting in 1995 that left some 20 people dead and was sparked by a gun attack on several cafes.
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Wednesday, July 29th 2015
AFP
           


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