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Security tight for Olympic torch relay in Paris

About 3,000 French police will protect the Olympic torch relay as it departs from the Eiffel Tower and crisscrosses Paris amid threat of protests.

world Updated: Apr 07, 2008 10:32 IST

About 3,000 French police, on motorcycles, in jogging gear and on skates, will protect the Olympic torch relay on Monday as it departs from the Eiffel Tower and crisscrosses Paris amid threat of protests.

When the torch passed through London a day earlier, police repeatedly scuffled with activists angry about China's human rights record leading up to the Beijing Olympics August 8-24. One protester tried to grab the torch, while another tried to snuff out the flame with what appeared to be a fire extinguisher. Thirty people were arrested.

Even before the chaos in London, Paris police had conceived an elaborate security plan to keep the torch in a safe "bubble."

French torchbearers will be encircled by several hundred officers, some in riot police vehicles and on motorcycles, others on skates and on foot. Three boats were also to patrol the Seine River, and a helicopter was to fly over Paris, police said.

About 80 athletes will carry the torch over a 28-kilometer route that starts at the Eiffel Tower, heads down the Champs-Elysees avenue toward City Hall, then crosses over the Seine before ending at the Charlety track and field stadium.

Pro-Tibet activists have threatened demonstrations, saying they would not reveal their exact plans until on Monday.

The head of Reporters Without Borders, arrested in Greece last month for protesting during the flame-lighting ceremony there, said the group had altered its initial plans because of the heavy police turnout. Without giving away details, Robert Menard promised protests would nonetheless be "spectacular.