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Saturday 20 September 2014

90 hurt in Turkey's May Day clashes

Published 01/05/2014 | 10:32

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Riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse thousands of people trying to reach Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, to mark May Day (AP)

Scores of people have been injured or detained across Istanbul during May Day clashes between riot police and demonstrators.

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The Istanbul governor's office said 142 people were detained and 90 were wounded as confrontations escalated. Nineteen of the wounded were police officers.

Some of the injuries were serious, said the Dogan news agency, citing the Istanbul Medical Chamber.

The report said that more than a dozen people were wounded by tear gas canisters and hundreds had received treatment at clinics for exposure to gas.

Turkish police have been widely criticised by international rights groups for heavy-handed tactics on protesters in previous demonstrations.

Determined to defy a government ban, hundreds of demonstrators tried to march toward the city's iconic Taksim Square, but were prevented by police water cannons and tear gas.

Last week city administrators said the square would be off limits to International Workers' Day demonstrations and most points of entry were blocked.

Before being declared a national holiday in 2009, May 1 was a day of conflict that often led to violence across Turkey.

Taksim is symbolic for Turkey's labour movement. In 1977, 34 people were killed in the square during a May Day event when shots were fired into the crowd from a nearby building.

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