The Associated Press
NORMAN — More Turkey unrest
ISTANBUL — Riot police firing tear gas and water cannons repelled thousands of anti-government protesters attempting to converge on Istanbul’s central Taksim Square on Sunday, unbowed even as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended his crackdown at a rally of his supporters.
A day after police quashed an 18-day sit-in at the square’s Gezi Park, Erdogan spoke to hundreds of thousands of his supporters on one side of Turkey’s largest city, and throngs of protesters angrily tried to regroup and reclaim Taksim. The square had become the symbolic center of defiance against Erdogan’s government.
The contrast between the two events highlighted growing divisions in Turkish society, which many say have been exacerbated by Erdogan’s fiery rhetoric as he faced down the most widespread protests in his 10-year tenure.
Although they have dented his international image and angered many at home, the protests are unlikely to prove a significant challenge to his government. He was elected with 50 percent of the vote just two years ago.
Plees to the Pope
CARACAS, Venezuela — Pope Francis should pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to focus on promoting democracy and peaceful coexistence to ease tensions with the socialist government’s opponents, the Catholic Church’s top representative in the country said Sunday.
Cardinal Jorge Urosa said he expected the pontiff to try to persuade Maduro during their meeting Monday at the Vatican to cease his verbal attacks on political rivals and critics
The cardinal said he hopes to see “increased serenity and impartiality in the president’s language” following the meeting.
“Hopefully when (Maduro) returns he will use much more calm and democratic language, and also recognizes the existence and importance of those who belong to the opposition,” Urosa said during an interview telecast by the privately owned Globovision channel.
It will be the president’s first meeting with the new pope.
Iraq attacks kill 51
BAGHDAD — A blistering string of apparently coordinated bombings and a shooting across Iraq killed at least 51 and wounded dozens Sunday, spreading fear throughout the country in a wave of violence that is raising the prospect of a return to widespread sectarian killing a decade after a U.S.-led invasion.
Violence has spiked sharply in Iraq in recent months, with the death toll rising to levels not seen since 2008. Nearly 2,000 have been killed since the start of April, including more than 180 this month.
The surge in bloodshed accompanies rising sectarian tensions within Iraq and growing concerns that its unrest is being fanned by the Syrian civil war raging next door.
Gunmen kill two
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Gunmen killed two anti-polio workers Sunday in northwest Pakistan, police said, the latest violence directed at efforts to eradicate the disease from the country.
The two attackers shot the two Pakistani health workers while they were on a vaccination drive in rural Kandar village, said Swabi District Police Chief Mohammad Saeed. The gunmen arrived on foot and then disappeared, he said.
No one claimed responsibility for the Sunday attack. Some Pakistani militant groups oppose the vaccinations and accuse the workers of spying for the U.S.