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Tens of thousands in Europe say no to war

Tens of thousands of Europeans across the continent demonstrated against the US and British invasion of Iraq.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2003 02:53 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Tens of thousands of Europeans across the continent demonstrated on Sunday against the US and British invasion of Iraq, with baton-wielding Turkish police dispersing protestors hurling eggs at a British consulate.

Tens of thousands mobilised in cities across Spain to protest outside military bases being used as launch pads by US forces in the war on Iraq.

Turkish police action came when demonstrators burned British and US flags and hurled eggs at the British consulate in the western city of Izmir, the CNN-Turk news channel reported.

News shots showed police lashing out at protesters with batons.

There is powerful public opposition in Turkey to the war in neighbouring Iraq. According to a recent opinion poll, nine out of 10 Turks oppose military action.

In Rome, some 200 demonstrated outside the Quirinale Palace - residence of Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi - calling on him to respect the country's constitution, whose article 11 repudiates war.

They laid on the street clad in T-shirts splashed in blood-red paint symbolising war victims and sang the Italian World War II anti-fascist song "Bella Ciao."

In Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, some 700 demonstrators including American and Iraqi expatriates marched to the US embassy with banners reading: "Whose war is it? It's Bush's!" "Don't chuck bombs, chuck Bush!" and "No blood for oil."

Tens of thousands demonstrated across Spain where the majority are against the war despite their government's support for the US-led intervention in Iraq.

The biggest demonstrations were in southern Puerto de Santa Maria, where 25,000 turned out to demonstrate according to the police and 60,000 according to organisers.

The protestors marched to the nearby Rota air base jointly used by both Spanish and US forces, where a riot police were out in force.

In the northeastern city of Barcelona 15,000 people attended a musical show denouncing the war.

Hundreds burst 50,000 balloons symbolizing bombs to the sound of air raid sirens.

In the capital Madrid rain failed to deter a 2,000-strong crowd from marching 10 kilometres (six miles) to Torrejon air base.

Torrejon is one of the seven bases which Spanish authorities have allowed US forces to use in the war on Iraq launched on March 20.

In Saragossa, some 3,000 people also braved the rain to march to the gates of the local airbase, which was used by US forces in the first Gulf War in 1991, journalists said.

Despite overwhelming public opposition in Spain to the war, the conservative government of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has been one of the staunchest supporters of the US-led military strikes on Baghdad.

A thousand people turned out in the Bulgarian capital Sofia for an anti-war protest organised by the opposition Socialist party.

Banners called for a stop to the war and the resignation of the government, which has allowed US forces to use a Bulgarian air base, and sent a team of experts in nuclear, biological and chemical weapons defence to the Gulf region.

First Published: Mar 31, 2003 02:53 IST