Protester shot dead in southern Turkey

Protestors set up turned cars on fire in Taksim square in Istanbul on 3 June 2013 after days of protests against the Islamic-rooted government. (Photo: AFP - Ozan Kose)

Published Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A protester was shot dead late on Monday during an anti-government demonstration in southern Turkey near the Syrian border, the provincial governor's office said.

Abdullah Comert, 22, died in the town of Antakya, the governor's office statement said.

Television channel NTV reported he was demonstrating to show support for a wider protest that began in Istanbul last week against the policies of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, and said he was shot in the head.

It was not immediately clear who opened fire at the Antakya rally, the governor's office stated.

Hatay province borders Syria and has sheltered thousands of refugees from the civil war there. Last month, car bombs ripped through the center of the Hatay town of Reyhanli, killing 52 people.

Comert is the second protester to die after a taxi hit Mehmet Ayvalitas, a member of a left-wing association, when it plowed into demonstrators occupying a highway on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Turkey's leftist Public Workers Unions Confederation (KESK), which represents 240,000 members, was due to begin a two-day "warning strike" at midday to protest at the police crackdown on what had begun as peaceful protests.

In a defiant response to Turkey's worst riots in years, Erdogan rejected talk of a "Turkish Spring" and said the protesters were "arm-in-arm with terrorism", before leaving for an official visit to North Africa on Monday.

Hundreds of police and protesters have been injured since Friday, when a demonstration to halt construction in a park in an Istanbul square grew into mass protests against a heavy-handed police crackdown and what opponents call Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's authoritarian policies.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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