Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of a new metro line in Ankara March 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN
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Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan condemned anti-government protesters on Thursday as "charlatans" bent on sowing chaos in the run-up to local elections after Turkey's worst civil unrest since mass protests last summer.Two people died during protests on Wednesday, including a police officer in eastern Turkey who suffered a heart attack and a 22-year-old man shot in Istanbul in an apparent stand-off with a group of anti-government protesters. Several thousand people gathered for Burakcan Karamanoglu's funeral in Istanbul's conservative Kasimpasa district, where Erdogan grew up and still commands fervent loyalty, his death becoming a rallying point for government supporters. On Thursday, streets which bore the brunt of the unrest were quieter, although police in the capital Ankara fired bursts of water cannon to clear small pockets of protesters and detained at least 15 people, mostly students, a Reuters witness said.The death on Tuesday of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, who got caught up in street battles in Istanbul between police and protesters last June while going to buy bread for his family, has touched a raw nerve with many Turks and highlighted the country's polarised political atmosphere.
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