Police take Istanbul protest square

AFP-JIJI

Hundreds of riot police on Tuesday retook Istanbul’s Taksim Square, firing tear gas and water cannon at anti-government demonstrators who threw back molotov cocktails and fireworks.

The police said they wanted to remove the barricades erected around the square, the epicenter of 12 days of nationwide demonstrations, but would not force out the hundreds of protesters who have been camping out in the adjoining Gezi Park.

Police had been staying away from Taksim Square after officers pulled out of the area over a week ago. The protesters were caught off guard by their return.

The police action came just hours after the government said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who protesters see as increasingly authoritarian, would meet with some of the protest leaders on Wednesday.