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Vadim Ghirda, Associated Press
Protesters try to resist the advance of riot police in Gezi park in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Riot police stormed the park after protesters ignored government appeals and a warning from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the two-week standoff that has fanned nationwide demonstrations to end.

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.