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Olympic rally in London disrupted by pro-Tibet protestors
April 06, 2008 19:48 IST
Pro-Tibet protesters clashed with the police and tried to snatch and put out the Beijing Olympic torch leading to the arrest of 10 people as the flame was paraded in London on Sunday.
Braving unseasonal snow and chilly weather, hundreds of people including a sizeable number of pro-Tibetan campaigners had lined up the route as the torch relay passed through Ladbroke Grove, British Museum and China Town.
Champion rower Sir Steve Redgrave began what turned out to be a chaotic relay, taking the torch out of the newly renovated Wembley stadium.
Three people were arrested when protesters tried to board the bus carrying the torch from the stadium after dodging the police.
Protesters later tried to snatch the torch from former presenter Konnie Huq and a fire extinguisher was set off.
At least 10 arrests have been made from various places following clashes between pro-Tibet protesters, the police said.
The police, in hundreds, provided a protective ring around the torch as it was carried by bus, foot, boat and light railway past some of London's most iconic sights.
Pro-Tibet campaigners had appealed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown not to welcome the torch in Downing Street and to boycott the Beijing Olympics unless China opened talks with the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.
But Brown resisted the calls pointing out that the exiled Tibetan leader opposed such action.
"It is also important to recognise, when you ask the question about the Olympic torch, that the Dalai Lama himself has said that he does not want to see a boycott of the Olympics," Brown said.
Scuffles broke out along the route as hundreds of campaigners chanting 'Free Tibet' protested China's human rights record and actions in Tibet ahead of Beijing Olympics which are slated to start on August 8.
In London, host of the next Olympics in 2012, among those taking part in the relay included ten Olympic champions, 18 schoolchildren and public figures such as news reader Sir Trevor McDonald and musician Vanessa Mae.
The Metropolitan Police said 2,000 officers are mobilised to maintain order along the route of the relay.
The torch, which was flown into London from St. Petersburg, Russia on Saturday, will move to Paris on Monday, where authorities have also deployed massive security for the relay.