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Turkish teen injured in protest dies

15-year-old bystander slipped into a coma after being hit in the head last year with a tear gas canister.

Last updated: 11 Mar 2014 09:49
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Berkin was hit by a tear gas canister during mass anti-government protests last year [AP]

A teenager who fell into a coma after being hit by a tear gas canister during mass anti-government protests in Turkey last year has died at an Istanbul hospital, his family said.

"We lost our son Berkin Elvan at 0700 [0500 GMT]. May he rest in peace," his family wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Fifteen-year-old Berkin was walking to buy bread for his family on June 16, when he got hit in the head by a suspected police tear gas canister, as mass anti-government protests began to sweep Istanbul that month.

Berkin's story, as he spent 269 days in a coma, gripped the nation and became a symbol of the heavy-handed tactics used by police to reign in the biggest demonstrations that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had faced since coming to power in 2003.

The protests started as a small environmentalist movement to save an Istanbul park from being razed, but snowballed into a nationwide wave of protests against Erdogan, who critics say had become increasingly authoritarian.

Berkin's death brought the toll from the unrest to at least eight including a policeman.

The protests saw an estimated 2.5 million people take to the streets across Turkey over three weeks to demand Erdogan's resignation. More than 8,000 people were injured in the demonstrations, according to the medics.

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