Turkish May Day: Istanbul police clash with leftists

Turkish police detain a protester Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police used tear gas to disperse protesters

Turkish police say they have detained nearly 140 people following clashes during May Day protests in Istanbul.

Some of the demonstrators threw stones and set off fireworks near Taksim Square - a traditional rallying point for left-wing protesters.

Police used rubber bullets and tear gas. Twenty-four people, including six policemen, were wounded in the clashes.

Opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have accused him of repressive tactics ahead of elections in June.

The May Day march was the first major protest since the Turkish parliament passed a controversial law giving police increased powers in March.

The law widens powers to conduct stop-and-search and detain demonstrators. Much of Istanbul's public transport had been shut down because of security concerns.

The government had said Taksim Square would only be open to those who came peacefully, not for "illegal demonstrations".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Water cannon was used against protesters in Istanbul's Besiktas district
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Plain-clothes officers also detained protesters
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some of the demonstrators threw bottles and set off fireworks

While Istanbul police said nearly 140 people were detained, activists said the number was nearly double that.

The square was at the centre of nationwide anti-government protests for weeks in 2013.

On Friday, tens of thousands of people also held a peaceful march in the capital Ankara.

Meanwhile, protests took place elsewhere in Europe for International Workers Day, including:

  • In the Greek capital Athens, about 13,000 people, carrying banners and shouting anti-austerity slogans, marched in three separate rallies. Minor clashes broke out at the end but no injuries or arrests were reported
  • In the French capital Paris, three activists from the feminist group Femen disrupted a traditional National Front speech being made by leader Marine Le Pen. They made Nazi salutes and had the words "Heil Le Pen" and "Stop Fascism" painted across their breasts
  • Several thousand people took part in traditional anti-capitalist street parties in Berlin, Germany, on Thursday night. Fireworks and stones were thrown at police, injuring one officer. Fifteen people were detained.

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