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Olympic torch paraded after police detain activists

Crowds cheered and police security was tight as 60 runners completed their 90-minute relay through Ho Chi Minh City without apparent incident after protesters had threatened rallies against China's government.

world Updated: Apr 29, 2008 23:01 IST

The Beijing Olympic torch was paraded through Vietnam's main city on Tuesday, ending the international part of its troubled journey hours after police detained several anti-China activists.

Crowds cheered and police security was tight as 60 runners completed their 90-minute relay through Ho Chi Minh City without apparent incident after protesters had threatened rallies against China's government.

The torch, which has been dogged by pro-Tibet activists in cities including Athens, London and Paris, was set to be flown at 10 am on Wednesday (0830 IST) to the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau, officials said.

Thousands of well-wishers, many waving Chinese flags, crowded the start line of the Olympic flame route near the downtown Opera House in former Saigon.

"We feel very proud," said Li Guan, a 26-year-old Chinese resident of Ho Chi Minh City, which has Vietnam's largest ethnic Chinese community. "This is one of the greatest moments of my life."

Thousands of police were deployed in the southern port city and the capital Hanoi to guard Beijing's diplomatic missions there and prevent anti-Chinese rallies that had been announced on weblogs.

Activists said more than a dozen demonstrators were detained in Hanoi and prevented from staging rallies against China and its claims over South China Sea islands disputed by several nations, including Vietnam.