Turkish police fire teargas to disperse hundreds in Istanbul

ISTANBUL Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:52pm EDT

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police fired teargas in Istanbul on Wednesday to disperse several hundred people protesting against the police crackdown on last month's anti-government demonstrations, local media reported.

Police blocked several hundred protesters in a busy street near Istanbul's Taksim Square from marching in support of a teenage boy who is said to be in a coma after being hit in the head by a teargas canister during the unrest.

TV footage showed police vehicles firing water cannons and protesters running into side streets.

What started as a small protest against the planned redevelopment of the city's Gezi Park triggered nationwide protests last month against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, accused by his critics of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

Five people died and thousands were injured in the anti-government unrest, which posed the biggest challenge to Erdogan's decade-old rule.

While the protests have largely died down across the country, some isolated demonstrations have persisted in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.

(Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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