[News] Anti-NATO demonstrators clash with riot police in Istanbul

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Mon Jun 28 08:52:39 EDT 2004

Monday 28 June 2004 7:54 AM GMT

Some 2,000 anti-NATO demonstrators have clashed with truncheon-wielding 
riot police in Istanbul as the summit of the 26-member alliance got under way.

Police fired tear gas at the demonstrators who attempted to force their way 
through a road block on the European side of the city to approach "NATO 
valley" -the complex of hotels and conference centres where the summit is 
being held on Monday.

Several police and protesters were reported injured.

Demonstrators, wearing helmets, gas masks and armed with slings, threw 
petrol bombs, stones and sticks at the police.

Police attempted to break up the demonstration, using armored vehicles and 
spraying water at the protesters.

The protester overturned at least six cars in the neighbourhood, breaking 
their windows.

A police officer was seen kicking and hitting a demonstrator with a truncheon.

About 1,500 officers, in riot gear with plastic shields, were deployed in 
the area as helicopters over flew the district. The leaders at the summit 
include US President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and 
French President Jacques Chirac.

Warplanes patrolling

Turkey dramatically boosted security before Bush's arrival and in 
preparation for the NATO summit.

F-16 warplanes patrolled the skies of Istanbul. AWACS early warning planes 
dispatched by NATO will help monitor a no-fly zone over the city.

More than 23,000 police are on duty for the summit. Turkish commandos are 
patrolling the Bosporus in rubber boats with mounted machine guns.

There have been daily protests against the summit and Bush's visit.

Middle East support

On Sunday, more than 40,000 demonstrators, some chanting "USA get out of 
the Middle East!" gathered on the Asian side of Istanbul, some 10 km away 
from the summit area.

Police also detained about 15 leftist demonstrators in downtown Ankara, 
saying the group was planning to stage a firebombing in the city.

Bush's arrival was also preceded by a series of bomb blasts, including one 
on Thursday that injured three people outside the Ankara hotel where Bush 
is expected to stay.

Another blast that same day on an Istanbul bus killed four people and 
injured 14.

The bombings has been blamed on leftists.


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