By DESMOND BUTLER, Associated Press
ISTANBUL (AP) — Hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police in southern Turkey on Tuesday following a funeral for a 22-year-old protester whose death provoked calls for a revival of the massive anti-government protests that swept the country over the summer.
Protesters also were gathering in other Turkish cities, including Ankara and Istanbul, where police launched tear gas at demonstrators who were seen throwing projectiles.
In Istanbul, protesters chanted "Taksim is everywhere," referring to the city's main square where June's anti-government protests began after a police crackdown on a group protesting plans to demolish an adjacent city park.
Ahmet Atakan is the sixth anti-government protester killed in Turkey in recent months. Turkish news reports, citing witnesses, said Atakan died Tuesday after being struck late Monday by a police tear gas canister while taking part in a protest in Antakya against construction of a road through a university in Ankara, the capital.
However, in a statement Tuesday, police denied responsibility, saying that Atakan fell and there was no police intervention.
The June protests quickly ballooned into an expression of discontent with what opponents say is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian style. Many in Turkey have expected renewed demonstrations as Turkish university students now return to campuses.
The latest come as the country is heading into local elections that could determine whether Erdogan consolidates power as he seeks to run for president later next year.
Following a funeral for Atakan on Tuesday afternoon, a group of protesters launched a firecracker at security forces, which prompted retaliation with tear gas and water cannons.
Atakan's girlfriend, Gokce Dayanir, said she tried to warn him to be careful at the protests. "He said he couldn't sit at home while his friends were out there," she said.
In Ankara, protesters who convened at a square in the capital city were dispersed with water cannons and tear gas.
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