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Three arrested as Tibet protesters lunge for flame

April 8, 2008

Dispatch Online - South Africa
2008/04/07

PRO-TIBET protesters clashed with British police as they tried to put
out the Beijing Olympic flame while the torch was being taken around
London yester day.

Police jumped on demonstrators who tried to disrupt the relay in what
appeared to be a well-orchestrated protest.

Two protesters were arrested as they attempted to extinguish the torch
and a third was pushed to the ground as he tried to seize the flame from
a British TV presenter taking part in the relay.

Police said there had been 10 arrests in the first hour of the relay.

There were scuffles each time members of the relay team – renowned
British athletes and television personalities – handed over the flame to
the next runner.

Shouts of “free Tibet, free Tibet” echoed around the streets, while
demonstrators held up banners and had their faces painted in the colours
and style of the Tibetan flag.

Police on bikes and running alongside the flame escorted each member of
the relay.

Former Olympic rower Steve Redgrave kicked off the all-day relay, which
began at Wembley Stadium in unseasonal snowfall.

There were even arrests there, as Redgrave handed the flame to a 16-
year-old girl.

Beijing has faced international criticism over its crackdown on
anti-Chinese protests in Tibet, which began on March 10 in Tibet’s
capital, Lhasa, and spread to other areas of China with Tibetan populations.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say more than 150 people have been killed in the
unrest. China has given a figure of 20.

China’s top official in Tibet, rejecting demands by activists around the
world, insisted yester day that the Beijing Olympic torch relay would
pass through Tibet as planned. The torch moves to Paris today, and
French authorities have also prepared massive security for the relay . —
Sapa-AFP
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