One dead in Istanbul as anti-government protests flare
ISTANBUL: One person was dead and about 10 others were injured in Istanbul during violent clashes between police and protesters, officials said, in the latest eruption of anger against the Turkish government.
“Unfortunately we have not been able to save Ugur Kurt,” Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu wrote on Twitter, several hours after the 30-year-old was brought to hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.
The Istanbul governor had said previously that “two civilians have been wounded, one seriously, as well as eight police officers.”
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc earlier said that Kurt had been attending a funeral ceremony when police cracked down on some 50 protesters in the Okmeydani district, the scene of sporadic clashes.
Arinc’s comments suggested that the victim, a father of one, was hit by a stray bullet fired by a police officer during the clashes — the latest in a string of protests fuelled by rising anger against the government.
Video footage showed the father-of-one falling to the ground with an apparent head wound.
“If one of our citizens, who has nothing to do with the events, is injured by a stray bullet fired by a policeman, I would like to see anyone who is involved in this incident immediately be brought into account,” the deputy premier said.
Arinc said that a bullet lodged in the man’s head as well as guns used by police would be examined by prosecutors appointed to investigate the incident.
Violence erupted when police fired live ammunition as well as tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who denounced the death of a teenage boy who fell into a coma during anti-government unrest last year.
The demonstrators, also protesting over last week’s mine disaster in the western Turkish town of Soma, responded by hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at police and setting fire to an armoured police vehicle.
The security forces fired on the crowd, witnesses told AFP in accounts that confirmed press reports.
Clashes continued through the night as angry protesters hurled petrol bombs, blocked roads and burned tyres to fend off police officers, according to an AFP photographer.