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Thousands in Europe Protest Bombing

LONDON, AP –– An estimated 20,000 people marched through central London in the largest of several demonstrations in Europe on Saturday against the military strikes in Afghanistan.
Thousands in Europe Protest Bombing
By Simone Weichselbaum
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2001

LONDON –– An estimated 20,000 people marched through central London in the largest of several demonstrations in Europe on Saturday against the military strikes in Afghanistan.

Some sang, others chanted, a few attempted to burn American and British flags, but police said the march, on an unseasonably warm day, was peaceful.

The organizers, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, welcomed the large turnout, saying they hope to a create a broad coalition with protesters abroad.

"It is just remarkable of the high level of interest," said Nigel Chamberlain, spokesman of CND. "We might be in a minority in public opinion, but we are here to show that there are thousands of people against the war."

London police estimated that 20,000 people joined the march from Hyde Park, Piccadilly and Trafalagar Square. Police intervened to stop attempts to burn an American flag and a paper or cardboard Union Jack flag of Britain.

In Germany, more than 25,000 peace protesters took to the streets. The largest turnout was in the capital, Berlin, where some 15,000 protesters held a protest in the central Gendarmenmarkt square, police said. The rally was preceded by several peace marches held throughout the city under the motto "No War – Stand Up for Peace."

Demonstrators from peace, church and student groups, as well as some unions, called for an immediate halt to the attacks, warning of an escalation of violence in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. They also called on world leaders to encourage development in the region as a way to "root out terrorism at its base."

The U.S.-led coalition began its military campaign against Afghanistan on Oct. 7 after the ruling Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants to the United States. Bin Laden, a Saudi exile, is the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington in which about 6,000 people were killed.

In the southern German city of Stuttgart, about 10,000 peace protesters called on the United States to leave Afghanistan and for Germans to stand together against the war.

"This war threatens to spread a fire of hatred," Sybille Stamm, local head of the giant ver.di service union told a crowd gathered for a rally in downtown Stuttgart. Stamm criticized the government for increasing spending on state security, at the cost of social programs.

Before the rally, police said about 80 people took part in a protest vigil near the barracks where the U.S. military's headquarters for Europe are stationed. No incidents were reported.

In Sweden, several thousand people marched peacefully in the country's three biggest cities Saturday to protest the bombings.

"It's absolutely unacceptable that the world's richest country bombs the world's poorest people," said Ann-Cathrin Jarl of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

In Italy, youths demonstrated peacefully in Rome, Naples and several smaller cities. The biggest turnout was in Naples, with about 2,000 people. Many of the protesters were preparing to head on Sunday to Umbria, in central Italy, for a peace march organizers predict will draw tens of thousands of people.

In Glasgow, Scotland, around 1,500 people gathered in George Square for an anti-war protest.

Thousands of people across Australia rallied Saturday for peace. The demonstrations in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide had been planned for more than a year to protest the militarization of space, but became forums to oppose the military offensive in Afghanistan.

"No one supports the Sept. 11 attacks but no one supports what's happening now in Afghanistan, either. The way to remember the dead of Sept. 11 is not by building another mound of innocent people's bodies," said Denis Doherty, a rally organizer.



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