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Striking workers, riot police face off in Turkish capital

Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Members of the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) take part in a protest in central Ankara on Monday.

ANKARA, Turkey - Riot police backed by water cannons warned around 1,000 trade union workers to stop blocking a major avenue in the center of the capital Ankara on Monday or face intervention, a Reuters witness said.

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Protests that started as an outcry against a local development project in Taksim Square have snowballed into widespread anger against what critics say is the government's increasingly conservative and authoritarian agenda.

The workers were trying to march towards the central Kizilay district, waving flags and chanting slogans, as part of a national strike called by several labor groups in support of anti-government protests.

"Those of you on the streets must stop blocking the streets. Do not be provoked. The police will use force,'' police officers shouted through megaphones as several water cannon were positioned a few hundred meters away.

Meanwhile in Turkey's largest city Istanbul, police detained 441 people in connection with clashes in the city on Sunday between police and demonstrators protesting against the government, an official at the city's bar association said. 

Throughout Sunday, police in Istanbul fired water cannon and tear gas at thousands of anti-government demonstrators seeking to enter Istanbul's central Taksim Square. An official from the Ankara bar association said 56 people were detained in the capital. 

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