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Fresh War Protests Surge Across Globe

March 24, 2003

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ Anti-war demonstrators clashed with police outside the U.S. consulate in Hamburg and peace rallies emptied schools across Italy on Monday in a fresh swell of protests against the war in Iraq.

Protesters found varying ways of making themselves heard.

In Bahrain, a propane gas tank exploded outside a U.S. Navy base and a senior U.S. military official said it was ignited by protesters. The blast shattered windows but injured no one. In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard was heckled in parliament by activists opposed to his support for the war.

Hamburg police turned water cannons on protesters, including middle and high school students, outside the U.S. consulate in the northern German port city.

Police said a group of Palestinians and Kurds armed with wooden sticks, stones and bottles joined about 8,000 students who had been protesting peacefully outside the building and began attacking officers. Police arrested 21 protesters; several protesters and three officers were injured.

An estimated 40,000 demonstrators shouting ``Death to Bush, Victory for Saddam,″ marched to the U.S. Embassy in the West African nation of Mauritania. Some demonstrators carried photos of Saddam Hussein, while others wrapped themselves in Iraq’s flag.

In Italy, thousands of teachers and students took the day off to march peacefully through Rome, Milan, Turin, Venice, Bologna, Naples and Palermo.

An estimated 25,000 protesters joined in a peace march Monday night through the streets of Leipzig, Germany, following the route used by demonstrators who helped cause the collapse of the former East Germany in 1989. A similar demonstration in Berlin attracted hundreds of protesters who marched peacefully from the Brandenburg gate to the U.S. Embassy.

Demonstrations in Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and Bangladesh were smaller and less intense than previous protests, but activists across Asia said a new wave of rallies was being planned.

``Hatred against America is increasing,″ said Shahid Shamsi, spokesman for the United Action Forum, a hard-line Islamic group in Pakistan, where an estimated 100,000 people marched through the city of Lahore on Sunday.

In Bangkok, 1,000 farmers protested against the war on Monday. Thailand’s Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, said global opposition ``will make the Americans end the war as soon as possible.″

In Auckland, New Zealand, a Roman Catholic priest and another man said they used their own blood to make a 3-foot-long cross on the carpet of the U.S. Consul’s office after they made an appointment to see the diplomat, purportedly to read him an anti-war statement.

Howard, the Australian prime minister, was repeatedly heckled from the public gallery inside parliament in the capital, Canberra, while police outside pushed back hundreds of demonstrators protesting Australia’s combat role in Iraq.

Officers linked arms to stop protesters from entering the legislature, while security guards formed a second line behind its closed entrances.

In mainly Muslim Bangladesh, officials told foreign diplomats to seek police escorts whenever they leave their compounds after a string of anti-war protests. There have been no reports of violence directed toward diplomats so far. About 1,000 students protested Monday and riot police stopped dozens of women from marching on the U.S. Embassy.

In Indonesia, home to more Muslims than anywhere else in the world, several hundred people rallied in Surabaya, the second-most populous city. Smaller demonstrations took place in the capital, Jakarta.

Other protesters took to the streets of Mideast cities, including 15,000 people who gathered peacefully in the Yemeni port of Aden. Police used tear gas to break up a demonstration of hundreds of Sudanese students in their capital, Khartoum. Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Cairo, Egypt, said they had detained two left-wing members of parliament and were investigating them for allegedly inciting a violent protest last week. Human Rights Watch decried the beatings and mass arrests of demonstrators at the protest.

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