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Turkey Cracks Down on Istanbul Protesters

Turkish riot police continued to fire tear gas and water cannons at defiant protesters in Istanbul Sunday after a night of violence that sent tensions soaring ahead of a rally by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party.

Bulldozers removed protesters' barricades around the city's Taksim Square after thousands took to side streets when police forcibly evicted demonstrators from the adjoining Gezi Park, the center of two weeks of anti-government unrest.

Istanbul's governor said he will not allow a large anti-government gathering in Taksim planned by protest groups for later Sunday.

Earlier, municipal workers cleared away the last remnants of the two-week Gezi Park sit-in and police sealed the area to prevent protesters from returning to the spot that has become the focus of the strongest challenge to Mr. Erdogan in his 10 years in office.

Security forces continued to battle protesters Sunday in side streets off the park and beyond. In the capital, Ankara, police dispersed hundreds who tried to hold a memorial service for an activist who died in a nearby police crackdown earlier this month.

The protests began over the prime minister's plan to turn the park into a mall. They have evolved into anti-government demonstrations that have spread across the country.

The government says the demonstrators are being manipulated by illegal groups seeking to sow instability.

On Saturday, riot police stormed Taksim and Gezi Park, firing tear gas and water cannon after Mr. Erdogan warned that security forces would clear the area. Thousands in Ankara and Izmir also protested against Mr. Erdogan's ruling AK Party on Saturday.

On Friday, the prime minister told protesters he would put redevelopment plans for the park on hold until a court rules on them, and hold a referendum if the court rules in the government's favor.