Turkish PM issues 'last warning' for protesters

Updated: 2013-06-13 20:43


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ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday issued a "last warning" to thousands of protesters occupying Gezi Park of Istanbul, calling on them to evacuate the center of the nationwide demonstrations.

"Our patience is at an end. I'm making my last warning: mothers, fathers please withdraw your kids from there," Erdogan said while addressing his party members in Ankara.

Authorities would clear the site from "troublemakers" within 24 hours, the prime minister stated.

His warning came after the government proposed to hold a referendum in Istanbul to decide the future of Gezi Park.

The protests started a week ago when a group of environmentalists gathered in Gezi Park in Istanbul to protest against the government's plans to build a replica of Topcu Barracks over the park as part of a Taksim urban renewal project.

Hundreds joined the group later after the police used pepper spray and teargas to disperse them. After that, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Istanbul and several provinces nationwide to show support for the demonstrators and to protest against policies of Erdogan's government. Erdogan defended the use of tear gas by police.

The demonstrations continued Thursday despite the referendum proposal by the government.

The clashes between police and protesters have killed at least five people, including a policeman, and injured 5,000 people, according to local media.