Clashes as thousands attend Istanbul funeral

Fresh violence erupts as thousands take to the streets of Istanbul to honour a man killed in anti-government clashes.

    An estimated 10,000 mourners marched through Istanbul to honour a man killed by crossfire in clashes between police and anti-government protesters, as fresh battles shook the city's streets.

    Riot police clad in heavy body armour used tear gas and water cannon to disperse crowds on Friday as rioters blocked roads and burned tyres in the second day of demonstrations.

    A second person died from injuries on Friday after being hit by a grenade explosion during violent clashes overnight on Thursday, Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said.

    In the Okmeydani district, which has been the scene of sporadic clashes, some 10,000 people flocked to mourn Ugur Kurt who died from gunshot wounds to the head.

    The father-of-one was attending a funeral in a house of worship belonging to the Alevi branch of Islam when he was caught in the crossfire between police and some 50 protesters.

    Erdogan supports police 'patience'

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the police's actions, branding the demonstrators "terrorists".

    "I don't understand how police can maintain their patience," he said during an address to his party legislators on Friday.

    "When these terrorists are smashing windows, how can police wait with their hands tied?"

    Demonstrators are venting their anger over last week's mine disaster in the western town of Soma which killed 301 people and to commemorate the death of a teenage boy from injuries sustained during anti-government unrest last year.

    Mutlu blamed masked and armed groups for seeking to sow chaos in Turkey's financial capital. At least eight police officers and another person have already been injured in the clashes, he said.

    "The police are terrorising this country," Simay, a young woman at the scene, told AFP.

    "He came to bury someone yesterday and he will be buried today," protesters shouted as they marched through the streets.

    SOURCE: AFP


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