Thousands of people on the weekend paralyzed several neighborhoods in the Asian section of Istanbul in a massive demonstration against the urban corruption scandal in which children of Turkish ministers, public officials and several businessmen are implicated, Turkey's NTV television network reported.

Police intervened with water cannons and tear gas to break up groups of demonstrators but finally the situation calmed down and the protest march continued normally and peacefully.

Members of the groups who convened the demonstration - unions, professionals schools, feminist groups and human rights groups - chanted slogans used during the Gezi protests last summer and criticized new urban macro-projects such as Istanbul's third airport, which they believe will only be to the advantage of construction companies.

The accusations of corruption, which in recent days have resulted in 24 people being taken into custody, including the sons of the economy and interior ministers, paint a scenario in which politicians and construction company chiefs share the profits in a process of out-of-control urban development.

The first reaction of the Turkish government to the scandal was to fire or replace the police chiefs who began the investigation and so far 25 top police officials in Istanbul have lost their jobs, the daily Hürriyet reported.

Since Saturday, an Interior Ministry notice obligates the police to inform not only the Treasury but also the police hierarchy before beginning an investigation, a measure that has been criticized by several attorneys as unconstitutional, given that it ruptures the principle of separation of the judiciary and the executive, the daily said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the corruption scandal as a "trap" designed by the "dirty hands (of) ... agents and traitors" to damage his government and impede Turkey's economic growth.

"If someone reaches out his hands to touch Turkey's independence, to set traps for us, we will break his hands!" Erdogan threatened Sunday at a political rally in Giresun, in the northern part of the country. EFE