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Turkey: Police crack down on protests ahead of Erdogan rally

Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to keep protesters from regrouping in Taksim Square ahead of a rally for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan supporters.

Turkey protests 2013 06 16Enlarge
People run away from tear gas after they cross the Bosphorus bridge near Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 16, 2013. Police fired tear gas and jets of water to disperse hundreds of demonstrators, shortly after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned police would intervene to end protesters' occupation of a park bordering the square. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannons on Sunday in an attempt to keep protesters from regrouping in Taksim Square ahead of a rally for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Bulldozers removed barricades and workers cleaned the streets surrounding the square, which was sealed off by police following conflicts overnight.

More from GlobalPost: Turkey: Erdogan freezes Gezi Park project until court ruling

Police clashed with protesters until sunrise after officers stormed Gezi Park — the epicenter of 17 days of anti-government protests — in an attempt to evict demonstrators.

The group behind the Gezi Park campaign, Taksim Solidarity, called on protesters to gather peacefully in Taksim Square again but Turkish officials said that won't be happening.

The Turkish Medical Association told the Wall Street Journal they were unclear about injuries from the nightlong clashes, but said 135 people had been hospitalized.

More from GlobalPost: On location in Ankara: Turkey's great divide

Also Sunday, BBC News reported that two Turkish trade union groups are planning a one-day strike on Monday throughout the nation to protest government violence. 

Turkey's 11-union Confederation of Public Workers' Unions, which has 240,000 members, announced the move alongside the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions in a Sunday statement, reported Reuters

The developments came as local officials announced a protester with a serious head injury had died after several days in intensive care.

Tens of thousands of ruling AK Party supporters are expected to gather in Istanbul for Ergodan's second rally of the weekend.

He told crowds in Ankara on Saturday that he would crush his opponents in elections next year.

Erdogan has repeatedly insisted that the protests are a plot by bankers and foreign media to destabilize Turkey, according to The Associated Press.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/turkey/130616/turkey-police-crack-down-protests-erdogan-rally