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Dozens injured as May Day clashes break out in Istanbul

Protesters stand as riot police use water cannons and teargas to disperse thousands of people trying to reach the city's main Taksim Square to celebrate May Day in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday, May 1, 2014. Clashes erupted between May Day demonstrators and riot police as crowds determined to defy a government ban tried to march to the city's iconic Taksim Square. Security forces pushed back demonstrators with water cannons and tear gas. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

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Protesters stand as riot police use water cannons and teargas to disperse thousands of people trying to reach the city's main Taksim Square to celebrate May Day in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday, May 1, 2014. Clashes erupted between May Day demonstrators and riot police as crowds determined to defy a government ban tried to march to the city's iconic Taksim Square. Security forces pushed back demonstrators with water cannons and tear gas. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ISTANBUL - Scores of people were injured or detained across Istanbul on Thursday during May Day clashes between riot police and demonstrators.

In a written statement, the Istanbul governor's office said 142 people were detained and 90 were wounded as confrontations escalated. Nineteen of the wounded were police officers.

The Dogan news agency, citing the Istanbul Medical Chamber, reported some serious injuries. The report said that more than a dozen people were wounded by tear gas canisters and hundreds had received treatment at clinics for exposure to gas. Turkish police have been widely criticized by international rights groups for heavy-handed tactics on protesters in previous demonstrations.

Determined to defy a government ban hundreds of demonstrators tried to march toward the city's iconic Taksim Square, but were prevented by police water cannons and tear gas.

Last week city, administrators said the square would be off limits to International Workers' Day demonstrations and most points of entry were blocked.

Before being declared a national holiday in 2009, May 1 was a day of conflict that often led to violence across Turkey.

Taksim is symbolic for Turkey's labour movement. In 1977, 34 people were killed in the square during a May Day event when shots were fired into the crowd from a nearby building.

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