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Turkish PM defends his ‘duty’ to end protests

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ISTANBUL — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip says he carried out his "duty" by deploying riot police who evicted thousands of activists behind an 18-day sit-in at an Istanbul park that had become a center of protests against his 10 years in office.

In a thunderous speech Sunday to hundreds of thousands of supporters in western Istanbul, Erdogan also railed against foreign media coverage and social media amid criticism over his government's handling of the protests.

Meanwhile, about 10 kilometers (six miles) away in downtown Istanbul, riot police were firing tear gas and water cannon against protesters and stone-throwing youths.

Protesters are angry over the eviction of overwhelmingly peaceful activists at Gezi Park who oppose government plans to rip down its trees and erect a replica Ottoman-era barracks.