An anti-government protester shows a poster of Berkin Elvan to a policeman during a demonstration at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey. File picture: Ozan Kose

Istanbul - A teenager who fell into a coma after being hit by a teargas canister during mass anti-government protests last year died at an Istanbul hospital on Tuesday, his family said.

“We lost our son Berkin Elvan at 7am (05h00 GMT). May he rest in peace,” his family wrote on Twitter.

The 15-year-old Berkin was walking to buy bread when he got hit in the head by a teargas canister fired by police as mass anti-government protests swept Istanbul in June 2013.

Berkin's story - he spent 269 days in a coma - gripped the nation and became a symbol of the heavy-handed tactics used by police to rein 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 and 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. - AFP