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Police Clash with May Day Protesters in Several European Nations

Police in several European countries battled May Day demonstrators who rallied Friday as workers around the world marked the traditional labor holiday.

Turkish police used water cannons to prevent hundreds of workers from marching into a main Istanbul square (Taksim) as authorities permitted a small group led by union officials to hold commemorations there. News media report a number of injuries and arrests.

Turkey's parliament reinstated May Day as a public holiday last week. The date had been removed from Turkey's calendar after a 1980 military coup.

In Athens, Greek police used tear gas against several hundred demonstrators who broke away from a peaceful march and burned at least one car.

Meanwhile, police in Berlin say protesters threw bottles and stones at officers. German authorities report at least 48 people detained.

Russia's pro-Kremlin United Russia party organized marches in major cities. Several thousand communists gathered at a statue of Karl Marx waving red banners, criticizing official economic policies and calling on the government to step down. Police reported several arrests. Authorities also detained more than 100 people at a rally in St. Petersburg.

Officials in the western Austrian city of Linz report five people injured and 20 arrested in clashes with police at a communist organized rally.

Thousands marched in May Day rallies in Spain, and in many French cities workers protested President Nicolas Sarkozy's economic reform policies. In Italy, union leaders moved their rallies to the town of L'Aquila in a show of solidarity with the victims of last month's earthquake there.

May Day is traditionally marked by union rallies in many European countries and the global economic downturn is expected to swell the crowds this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.