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Protests plague Olympic torch relay in Australia
Natasha Chaku in Melbourne | April 24, 2008 10:28 IST
The Australian leg of the Beijing [Images] Olympic torch relay began on Wednesday in the capital city of Canberra, amid large crowds and tight security, to prevent any disruptions. At least four people were arrested after minor scuffles and demonstrations by pro-Tibetan protestors.
After spending the guarded night at an undisclosed location in Canberra, the Olympic torch was unveiled to the public at a special ceremony today morning.
Two members of the Chinese guards ran with the torch as it made its way along the route, but Australian Federal Police officers initially appeared to be shepherding them as far away from the torch as possible, according to media reports.
There had been confusion over the attendants' role in the run-up to the relay, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledging that no Chinese personnel would be allowed to provide security and Olympic officials saying they would be on hand to act as human shields in the event of any trouble.
The AFP men later appeared to relent and allow the Chinese attendants to run alongside and assist with the handover of torch between the bearers.
There have been at least four arrests, including one man who was detained when he set fire to a Chinese flag. Another protester was dragged aside by AFP officers a few hundred metres from Parliament House, after he threw himself on the ground ahead of a torch-bearer.
Two pro-Tibet women charged the torch convoy as it neared Parliament House and were dragged away by police as one yelled: "They're torturing my country".