Thousands gathering as May Day clashes expected in Istanbul

Thousands of demonstrators are gathering in Istanbul in observance of May Day, with many pledging to defy a government ban on protests in the central Taksim Square.

Demonstrators are massing at different spots throughout the city, as well as in other cities in Turkey. In Istanbul, clashes are expected with protesters determined to mark International Workers' Day in Taksim, the city's most iconic square.

Before being declared a national holiday in 2009, May 1 was a day of conflict that often led to violence across Turkey.

Taksim carries significant importance for May Day, which is also known as Labor Day. In 1977, 34 people were killed in the square when shots were fired into the crowd from a nearby building.