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Istanbul police fire water cannon, tear gas at gay pride marchers in central square

Turkish police have used water cannons and tear gas to clear a gay pride rally from Istanbul's central square.

Unclear why authorities stopped marchers in Taksim Square

Unclear why authorities stopped marchers in Taksim Square 1:33

Turkish police used water cannons and tear gas against gay pride marchers trying to rally in Istanbul's central square on Sunday, forcing the thousands of demonstrators to gather several blocks away.

Two people were injured, according to the Dogan news agency. The extent of their injuries wasn't immediately known.

Between 100 and 200 marchers were chased away from Taksim Square on Sunday after a police vehicle fired several jets of water to disperse the crowd. (Kemal Aslan/Reuters)

Between 100 and 200 protesters were chased away from Taksim Square as they began gathering in the late afternoon. Police hemmed the demonstrators into a small corner of the square and then fired several jets of water to force them down a side street.

Within minutes, the noisy but otherwise peaceful rally restarted a few blocks away and grew to several thousand people as the day wore on. An Associated Press reporter at the scene occasionally smelled tear gas, but there didn't appear any further attempt by police to interfere with the protest. The protest broke up around nightfall as many headed to local bars to celebrate.

Organizers said in a statement that the local authority prevented the rally from gathering at Taksim, a traditional focal point for protests, because it coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Turkey does not ban homosexuality, although homophobia remains widespread.

Supporters and people who were participating in the march tweeted videos of police firing water cannons and what appeared to be tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd, using the hashtag #istanbulpride.

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated from an earlier version moved by The Associated Press, which had originally reported it wasn't immediately clear why the police intervened to push the peaceful if noisy rally away from the area.
    Jul 14, 2015 12:55 PM ET