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Turkish official says army may have to end protests

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey's deputy prime minister on Monday raised the possibility that the army could be called in to help quell the continuing civil unrest, the latest sign of the government's impatience and officials' hardening stance against a nearly three-week-old protest movement.

The comments by the deputy prime minister, Bulent Arinc, followed days of intensifying street violence and signs of a broadening government crackdown that included the arrests of journalists as well as medical workers who have been treating protesters. Demonstrations continued Monday in several Turkish cities, led by unions that had called for a nationwide strike.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's subordinates detailed new measures aimed at stopping the protests. Interior Minister Muammer Guler said that new regulations were being prepared to police social media outlets, aimed at people who use Twitter or Facebook to promote protests.

Arinc said that the "innocent protests had ended" and that the continuing demonstrations were illegal. If the police were unable to contain the unrest, he said, the army could be called in, according to the semiofficial Anatolian news agency.

Arinc's comments suggest that the government remains convinced of the military's loyalty, but some protesters hope that soldiers can be swayed: When army vehicles were spotted in Istanbul during demonstrations last week, dozens of protesters who were trapped in a hotel by the police started chanting pro-military slogans, hoping the soldiers would intervene on their behalf, though they did not.

Demonstrators shout antigovernment slogans during a rally by labor unions in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday. A day earlier, riot police cordoned off streets, set up roadblocks and fired tear gas and water cannons to prevent antigovernment protesters from returning to Taksim Square.

Associated Press

Demonstrators shout antigovernment slogans during a rally by labor unions in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday. A day earlier, riot police cordoned off streets, set up roadblocks and fired tear gas and water cannons to prevent antigovernment protesters from returning to Taksim Square.

Turkish official says army may have to end protests 06/17/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 12:40am]
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