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China vows secure Olympics torch relay as activists protest

China pledged strict security measures to ensure its segment of the Beijing Olympics torch relay will not be marred by protests similar to the one at today's lighting ceremony in Greece.

world Updated: Mar 24, 2008 20:44 IST

China pledged strict security measures to ensure its segment of the Beijing Olympics torch relay will not be marred by protests similar to the one at today's lighting ceremony in Greece.

The Communist leadership has faced a public relations disaster since demonstrations against Chinese rule turned violent March 14 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, sparking waves of unrest in surrounding provinces.

In Greece, two demonstrators ran onto the field at Ancient Olympia during the flame lighting ceremony, which was carried on Chinese state television with a more than 30-second delay.

Cameras abruptly cut away when a man carrying a black banner with handcuffs used to symbolize the five Olympic rings ran behind Liu Qi, the president of Beijing's Olympics organizing committee, as he was giving a speech.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders journalism rights group said the banner was one the group uses and police detained three of its members.

Minutes later, a Tibetan woman covered herself in red paint and lay in the road in front of a runner carrying the Olympic torch while other protesters chanted "Free Tibet" and "Shame on China.