Protesters and riot police have clashed in Turkey after mourning a teenager who died last week after wounds sustained in June protests. It was the country's worst day of unrest since the mass demonstrations last year.
Tens of thousands of people turned out for protests around the country on Wednesday. In Istanbul, one protester died from a head injury and a police officer suffered a fatal heart attack. Security forces used water canon, tear gas and rubber pellets on protesters at a major avenue in the city to prevent them from reaching the central Taksim square.
Similar protests were seen in the capital Ankara, where the state-run Anadolu Agency said 73 people were arrested. In the western coastal city of Izmir, one woman suffered a broken leg and others were hospitalized after police tried to stop crowds from marching on government buildings, NTV news reported.
The rallies followed the funeral service of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, who died on Tuesday. Elvan had been in a coma since a police tear gas canister hit him in the head while he was going to buy bread for his family.
Tensions have flared in Turkey since his death, and many people called for the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as Elvan's coffin was carried through the streets of Istanbul Wednesday. Mourners chanted "Tayyip! Killer!", "Government resign!" and "Berkin Elvan is immortal" while others hurled stones at the ruling AK party building.
Elvan's death is viewed by many in Turkey as a symbol for the Turkish government's harsh crackdown on civil unrest in June. Last year's mass protests began as a relatively small environmental movement to save Istanbul's Gezi Park but transformed into a nationwide challenge to Erdogan's 11-year rule.
An estimated 2.5 million people took to the streets over three weeks in June. More than 8,000 people were injured and Elvan's death brings the total death toll to nine.
dr/av (Reuters, AFP, AP)
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