Violent clashes erupted in Istanbul Tuesday morning as riot police reportedly fired tear gas into a violent crowd, ending a lull in recent days after last week's protests.
Protesters created makeshift barricades in Istanbul's Taksim Square on Tuesday and hurled Molotov cocktails and firecrackers at police in riot gear. Authorities responded with bulldozers, rubber bullets, water cannons, armored vehicles and tear gas.
Three people have died since the protests began, including one police officer. Latest reports indicate the police have retaken control of the square.
The resurgence in violence follows protests May 31 regarding the government's decision to commercially develop Gezi Park – one of the few grassy spaces left in Istanbul – which escalated following the government's subsequent decision to crack down on the dissenters. Ongoing protests in the park remained peaceful before the violence Tuesday morning.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan maintains popularity in Turkey despite his reputation for coming down hard on protests such as these. He plans to meet with representatives from the growing opposition movement on Wednesday, the New York Times reports.
Observers have questioned who exactly is staging the protests that spread across Turkey, including Erdogan who said Tuesday that the original environmental movement had been taken over by what he calls extremists, according to the BBC.
The original protesters in Gezi Park were mostly activists from within Turkey's rising middle class, who feel a growing sense of power against government crackdowns, said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at D.C.-based The Washington Institute. Leftist and anarchist groups took advantage of the resulting chaos to further their own violent agenda.
Cagaptay expected many of the original protesters would "fizzle out" as they returned to work.
Check out this unconfirmed tweet from Taksim Square that seems to support later reports that police had retaken control of the area: