Hours of heavy fighting between Turkish riot police and anti-government protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square subsided early morning on Wednesday, with an uneasy calm blanketing the area.
As of 5:00 a.m. in Istanbul on Wednesday [10:00 p.m. EDT], garbage trucks were clearing up debris, empty tear gas canisters and broken barricades, which were removed by the police using bulldozers during a crackdown on protesters on Tuesday, the twelfth day of unrest, Agence France-Presse, or AFP, reported.
There was heavy police presence in the square, while thousands of protesters were confined to the neighboring Gezi Park, AFP reported. Police have said they do not plan to enter the park, according to the BBC.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan remained defiant on Tuesday and showed no signs of coming to a settlement with the protesters.
“This episode is now over. We won’t show any more tolerance,” Erdogan told cheering legislators of his Justice and Development Party in a televised speech on Tuesday, while the police clashed with protesters.
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Erdogan said four people, including a policeman, died since the unrest began on May 31.
Clashes continued all day Tuesday when protesters hurled bottles, rocks and firebombs even as riot police removed a continuous wave of protesters from Taksim Square.
Istanbul's governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said on Tuesday: “We will continue our measures in an unremitting manner, whether day or night, until marginal elements are cleared and the square is open to the people,” BBC reported.
He added that government action would “be conducted with care, in front of our people's eyes, in front of televisions and under the eyes of social media, with caution and in accordance with the law.”