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Police fire water cannons, tear gas to disperse protesters despite Turkish PM plea for calm

Police firing water cannons and tear gas have dispersed protesters who erected street barricades near Turkey's parliament overnight.

It was the latest face-off between authorities and demonstrators over the government's response to a protest sit-in that began more than two weeks ago at a coveted Istanbul park.

The pre-dawn melee Saturday in Ankara — on a street also close to the U.S. Embassy — came hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government asked a small delegation of protesters to persuade the hundreds of others occupying Gezi Park to leave.

Erdogan has promised to let the courts — and a possible referendum — decide the fate of a park redevelopment project that has sparked Turkey's biggest protests in decades. His supporters were planning weekend counterdemonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul.