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Angry antiwar protesters around the world take to the streets

LONDON—Peace marchers from around the world were in the streets again Saturday, their numbers much smaller than in earlier demonstrations but in many cases their participants angrier and more violent.

In London, an antiwar crowd estimated by police at 200,000 forced the closure of central city streets from Westminster to Hyde Park, and eight people were arrested after riot police charged into a crowd that was trying to block Oxford Street. Many marchers said they were infuriated at televised scenes of the "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad and other Iraqi sites by U.S. and British forces.

"I remembered the (Nazi Germany) blitz of London, and this was a helluva lot worse," said 82-year-old Devon resident Brenda Nixon, pushed in a wheelchair by her daughter Trish Evans.

Member of Parliament Alice Mahon, one of dozens of Labor Party MPs who have challenged Prime Minister Tony Blair's commitment of British troops to Iraq, told the assembled Hyde Park peace crowd that "last night's ferocious bombing (of Baghdad) will be remembered by generations to come."

On Feb. 15, a record London protest crowd estimated at 750,000 to 2 million decried the approaching war, joining millions of others in cities around the world. Saturday's marches were considerably smaller, with crowds at different sites in the low thousands.

But the demonstrations—organized in just the last week—again took place worldwide. Protest cities included: New York; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; Seoul, South Korea; New Delhi; Taipei, Taiwan; Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia; Stuttgart, Germany; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Paris; and Athens, Greece.

Police and some 15,000 demonstrators clashed in Athens.

U.S. and British embassies were often the target of anger. Protesters threw stones at the British embassy in Bahrain, and police in New Delhi had to keep hundreds of demonstrators away from the U.S. embassy there. Thirty women were arrested.

American embassies and offices remained closed in several Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, after protests turned violent Friday. In Yemen, three protesters were shot dead Friday as about 30,000 demonstrators fought with police.

Outside London, many British protests Saturday were targeted at U.S. military bases in the country; crowds of demonstrators outside the bases have grown in recent days and weeks.

Some 1,000 demonstrators brought aluminum foil to the U.S. military surveillance center in Menwith Hill, Yorkshire, with the hope of disrupting satellite communications at the base. A handful threw stones at police officers.

The U.S. air base Fairford in Gloucestershire—home to B-52 bombers believed to be used in the Iraq bombing campaign—drew an estimated 5,000 protesters Saturday. A week ago, two antiwar activists sneaked onto the base at night and damaged dozens of supply and service trucks before being arrested.

One of the two, Birmingham resident Paul Milling, said Saturday that he had no regrets. "The B-52 bombing didn't start until three days into the war," he said. "It would be nice" if he were at least partly responsible for that.


(Knight Ridder correspondent Michael Zielenziger contributed to this report.)


(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTOS (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): USIRAQ-PROTESTS