Protesters clashed today with riot police firing water cannon as unrest broke out again in Istanbul and Ankara.

Last night hotel guests were caught up in running battles after officers ended a mass anti-government protest with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.

Several people were reportedly hurt as officers cleared Gezi Park in Taksim Square in the centre of Istanbul.

Many protesters ran into a nearby hotels, but police hunted them down, throwing tear gas into the lobby of Divan Hotel, filling it with choking white smoke.

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Victim: A man is treated in Divan Hotel, Istanbul for tear gas after riot police threw a canister into the lobby

Victim: A man is treated in Divan Hotel, Istanbul for tear gas after riot police threw a canister into the lobby

 

 
Treated: A medic looks after one of the injured at the hotel after the eviction of protesters from Taksim Square and Gezi Park

Treated: A medic looks after one of the injured at the hotel after the eviction of protesters from Taksim Square and Gezi Park

 

 
Fleeing: Hotel guests and protesters escape the fumes of the tear gas thrown into the lobby of the Divan Hotel during the police operation

Fleeing: Hotel guests and protesters escape the fumes of the tear gas thrown into the lobby of the Divan Hotel during the police operation

Help: A victim of the tear gas is given oxygen by a medic. Police had fired water cannon and reportedly rubber bullets at the protesters

Help: A victim of the tear gas is given oxygen by a medic. Police had fired water cannon and reportedly rubber bullets at the protesters

 

 

 
Blazing: A lone protester in a gas mask stands defiantly in Taksim Square after clashes with police

Blazing: A lone protester in a gas mask stands defiantly in Taksim Square after clashes with police

 

 
Protection: Protesters hide behind a shield after police use tear gas and reportedly rubber bullets to move them out of the square

Protection: Protesters hide behind a shield after police use tear gas and reportedly rubber bullets to move them out of the square

 

 
 

Some of the crowd ran off into nearby streets, setting up makeshift barricades. 

Near Gezi, ambulances ferried the injured to hospitals as police set up cordons and roadblocks preventing anyone getting close to the park.

‘We tried to flee and the police pursued us. It was like war,’ Claudia Roth, the co-chair of Germany’s Greens party who was in the park, told the Reuters news agency.

In Ankara’s Kizilay Square today, police fired tear gas and water cannon, but the protesters chanting anti-government slogans, defiantly ignored the powerful spray.

Earlier, police dispersed a memorial service in the capital for a protester who died of injuries during a demonstration, reported the BBC.

Water attack: Police try to move on the crowd in Taksim Square by hosing them down

 
 
Hosed down: A woman is drenched by water cannon
Hosed down: A woman is attacked with water cannon during a protest in Kizilay square in central Ankara
 

Hosed down: Two women are drenched with water cannon during a protest in Kizilay Square in Ankara

 

 
Sprayed: A cameraman falls over under the powerful water cannon used by riot police in Ankara

Sprayed: A cameraman falls over under the powerful water cannon used by riot police in Ankara

 

 
Wet work: Water cascades down on protesters in Ankara as hardline riot police douse the crowds

Wet work: Water cascades down on protesters in Ankara as hardline riot police douse the crowds,

Yesterday’s police operation came less than two hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an end to the 18-day occupation of Taksim Square.

He has drafted in 1,000 police from Turkish provinces to quell the unrest.

In a speech to thousands of supporters in an Ankara suburb he threatened: ‘I say this very clearly: either Taksim Square is cleared, or if it isn’t cleared then the security forces of this country will know how to clear it.

He added that he he carried out his ‘duty’ by deploying riot police to evict the thousands of activists behind the sit-in.

As dusk fell, hundreds of white-helmeted riot police swept through Taksim Square and Gezi Park, firing canisters of the stinging gas storming through the tents set up throughout the park.

It took less than 30 minutes to oust the protesters, but as news of the crackdown spread, thousands of people from other parts of Istanbul gathered and were attempting to reach Taksim.

Television showed footage of riot police firing tear gas on a highway and bridge across the Bosphorus to prevent protesters from heading to the area.

Thousands of peaceful protesters, choking on the fumes and stumbling among the tents, put up little physical resistance, even as plain-clothes police manhandled many to drive them from the park.

Crews of workmen in fluorescent yellow vests and plain-clothes police searched the abandoned belongings before tearing down the tents, food centers and library set up in what had become a bustling tent city.

The protests began as an environmental sit-in to prevent a development project at Gezi Park, but have quickly spread to dozens of cities and spiraled into a broader expression of discontent about  Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian decision-making.

Defiant: A youth waves a flag during clashes with police after the operation at Gezi Park

Defiant: A youth waves a flag during clashes with police after the operation at Gezi Park

Demonstrations also erupted in other cities. In Ankara, at least 3,000 people swarmed into John F. Kennedy street, where opposition party legislators sat down at the front of the crowd facing the riot police – not far from Parliament.

In Izmir, thousands converged at a seafront square.

Tayfun Kahraman, a member of Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest movements, said an untold number of people in the park had been injured – some from rubber bullets.

He told Associated Press by phone: ‘Let them keep the park, we don’t care anymore. Let it all be theirs. This crackdown has to stop. The people are in a terrible state. ‘

Huseyin Celik, the spokesman for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, told NTV that the sit-in had to end.

He said: ‘They had made their voice heard … Our government could not have allowed such an occupation to go on until the end.’

Since the protests began, at least four people have died and more than 5,000 injured.

 
 
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