From Washington, this is VOA news. Calm following a protest of thousands in Istanbul, and a report says May was the deadliest month in Iraq in five years. I’m Vincent Bruce reporting from Washington.
Turkish police have removed barricades and allowed thousands of demonstrator to fill Istanbul’s famed Taksim Square after protesters and police clashed for a second day over the commercial development of a city park.
Large groups of protesters demonstrated peacefully but sporadic clashes were reported into the night in Istanbul.
Analysts say the unrest signifies growing discontent over the policies of the Islamist-dominated government, which some accuse of becoming increasingly authoritarian.
Mine Eder is a political is a political science professor at Istanbul’s Bogazici University. She tells VOA the movement is drawing from a broad range of the Turkish population.
“I think is sort of a spontaneous civil movement that started with the ownership of the trees and sort of turned into this kind of ‘We’ve had enough with this government and with this style of governance.'” Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Gule said more than 900 people have been arrested in protests across the country while 26 police officers and 53 citizens have been wounded. Some of those arrested have already been released.
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Officials in Niger say at least two guards were killed Saturday in an armed attack at the main prison in the capital, Niamey.
A government spokesman says several inmates suspected of terrorism were involved in the assault, and that most of the attackers are back in custody.
Pakistan swore in newly elected members of the National Assembly on Saturday, marking the first ever democratic transition of power in the 66-year history of the country. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
Security was tight around the parliament building for the ceremonial inaugural session of the newly elected legislature. Outgoing National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza solemnly administered the oath.
The political party of two-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif captured 176 of the 342 seats in the lower house of parliament, overwhelming the previous coalition leader, which won only 39 seats.
Even members of the outgoing coalition government acknowledge that their five-year hold on power resulted in little progress on the issues facing ordinary Pakistanis, like power shortages, inflation and unemployment.
After being sworn in Saturday, Mr. Sharif told reporters his party is ready to deal with the challenges.
Ayaz Gul for VOA news, Islamabad.
The United Nations says more than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in May, making it the country’s deadliest month since 2008.
The data from the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq was released Saturday. It said another 2,400 people were wounded since the end of April, and said nine out of 10 fatalities were civilian.
More than 1,700 people have been killed in the past two months, further stoking fears of all out sectarian war as resurgent al-Qaeda and Sunni fighters challenge the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Nigerian officials say they were demonstrating a commitment to peace talks when the country’s security forces released dozens of women and children held in connection with the Boko Haram insurgency. But as Nigeria’s military continues to hunt down Boko Haram members, some analysts say it’s too late for dialogue. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
This is Zari Muhammad, free now after being arrested with her husband last year. Her sons had been accused of being Boko Haram members. Now both of her sons are dead and she does not know where her husband is.
Asking her questions is Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, a man who has repeatedly called for dialogue between insurgents and the government. Shettima says the release of these prisoners will pave the way toward peace talks and calls on Boko Haram to lay down their weapons.
Other Nigerian leaders are less enthusiastic about offering pardons to anyone connected with Boko Haram.
Heather Murdock for VOA news, Abuja.
A leading Sunni Muslim cleric, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has called on Sunnis from across the Middle East to go to Syria to fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian Islamist based in Qatar, Saturday told his followers to support rebels trying to topple the Assad government.
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