ISTANBUL, Turkey, JUNE 1, 2010 -- Turks expressed their frustration for a second day as they protested in front of the Israeli consulate here.
A crowd of about 200 people marched a short distance in Istanbul's business district in protest of Monday's deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship. Demonstrators were well outnumbered by riot police heavily armed with automatic weapons, tear gas guns and clubs. Police also erected large steel barricades on side streets to keep any protest in a tightly controlled area.
Chanting "Israel murderers, America murderers," protesters called for the return of Turkish citizens who were aboard a flotilla of ships stopped by Israeli naval commanders. It is believed that as many as 400 of the 600 people on the flotilla were Turks.
In the Turkish capital of Ankara, protesters skirmished with police in front of the Israeli Embassy. Several were arrested.
Three to nine Americans were aboard the flotilla, with reports indicating that none were killed or injured, a U.S. official said.
The official called "this is a very serious incident between Turkey and Israel and could have profound effects on the future relationship." Turkey is a major U.S. ally and, the official sad, the U.S. government is engaging the Turks "at the broadest and most extensive level in memory."
President Obama may speak with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan today and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is expected to meet with her Turkish counterpart Davut Oglu today in Washington.
Turkish officials say the first order of business is to repatriate all of its citizens who were on the flotilla. Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv and has called on the international community to condemn the incident.
Turkish officials say one or more planes have left its capital Ankara bound for Israel to bring home Turks captured by the Israeli military. It's still unclear whether Israel will allow the captured passengers to return, although three people returned to Istanbul today.
Nilufer Cetin, along with her 1-year-old son, were extradited overnight to Istanbul where she faced a phalanx of cameras upon arrival at the airport. She said Israeli officials allowed her to return because she was told jail conditions would be "too harsh" for her son. She said she and her son hid in the ship's bathroom during the raid.
Flotilla Group: No Evidence of Terrorism on Ships
Omer Faruk Korkmaz, a member of the board of IHH, the Turkish non-governmental organization that organized the flotilla, said he's largely pleased with the U.N. security council resolution condemning the incident but he emphasized, "those are just words. We want our people back."
Responding to Israeli claims that individuals tied to terrorism were on the flotilla, he said, "They have captured everyone on the ships. Let's see their evidence."
David O'Byrne and Clark Bentson contributed to this report.