Turkish police fire teargas, water cannon to disperse Istanbul protesters

ISTANBUL (REUTERS) - Turkish police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse protesters in a central Istanbul square on Saturday as they gathered to enter a park that was the centre of anti-government protests last month.

The Taksim Solidarity Platform, combining an array of political groups, had called for a march to enter the sealed off Gezi park, but the governor of Istanbul warned any such gathering would be confronted by the police.

A police crackdown on a group protesting against the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park, a leafy corner of Taksim, triggered a nationwide wave or protest last month against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, accused by his critics of becoming increasingly authoritarian after a decade in power.

Turkish Halk TV footage showed protesters at Taksim square, standing in front of riot police displaying a court decision on cancellation of plans for a replica Ottoman-era barracks on Istanbul's Taksim Square.

The plan is backed by Mr Erdogan.

Authorities can appeal against the court ruling, which was considered a victory for the protesters and a blow for Mr Erdogan, who stood fast against protests and riots he said were stoked by terrorists and looters.

Four people were killed and some 7,500 wounded in the police crackdown, according to the Turkish Medical Association.

It largely ended when police cleared a protest camp on the square on June 15.

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