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Mourners gather for Turkish boy's funeral after night of protest

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[March 12, 2014]  ISTANBUL (Reuters)  Several thousand mourners gathered in central Istanbul on Wednesday for the funeral of a 15-year-old boy wounded during anti-government demonstrations last summer whose death on Tuesday triggered protests across Turkey.

Riot police fired water cannon and tear gas on thousands of demonstrators in several cities overnight, adding to pre-election worries for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as he battles a corruption scandal that has become one of the biggest challenges of his decade in power.

Berkin Elvan, then aged 14, got caught up in street battles in Istanbul between police and protesters on June 16 while going to buy bread for his family. He slipped into a coma and became a rallying point for government opponents.

"Berkin is our honor. He is immortal", "a mother's anger will kill the murderers" and "Everywhere is Berkin, everywhere is resistance", the crowd chanted in the Istanbul district of Okmeydani, where Elvan's funeral was due to take place.

Protesters stood by fires at barricades blocking roads around the area. Signs on shop windows said stores would remain shut for two days, while traders sold black and white flags bearing Berkin's face.

(Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva and Evrim Ergin; writing by Daren Butler; editing by Gareth Jones)

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