- (AFP) -- Anti-globalisation rioters rampaged through
Geneva overnight, smashing shop windows and hurling firebombs at government
buildings as demonstrators geared up for major protests to mark the opening
of a G8 summit.
- The trouble flared just hours before leaders of the world's
most powerful nations were due to arrive across the border in the French
Alpine resort of Evian for their three-day annual meeting.
- Tens of thousands of anti-globalisation activists are
expected to join cross-border protests to air a multitude of grievances
against the world's invitation-only rich club.
- To counter the threat, some 25,000 police and military
personnel have been deployed in Evian and just across the Swiss border
in Geneva to try to ensure the high-profile summit passes off peacefully.
- Security is so strict in Evian itself that the protestors
have been forced to focus their campaign around Geneva and the French town
of Annemasse, setting up vast tent camps.
- Protestors, some wearing masks, blocked a road and bridge
on both sides of the border but riot police used tear gas to stop a group
trying to reach Thonon, about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the heavily-fortified
- Protesters carried flags and banners reading "No
to War", "The G8 is illegitimate" and "Peace".
- In Geneva, two molotov cocktails were hurled at local
government offices while protesters threw stones and other missiles at
windows and attempted to torch several of the shops.
- A police spokesman said firefighters had been attacked
as they tried to fight the flames.
- Switzerland, which is not a G8 country, is putting on
its biggest security operation since World War II amid fears of a repeat
of the violence that shook the Genoa G8 meeting two years ago when a demonstrator
was shot dead by police.
- Brief clashes Saturday, when French riot police used
tear gas and batons to push back some 400 noisy protestors, gave an early
indication of the scale of potential trouble ahead.
- Many shops and businesses in Geneva's chic downtown quarter
have boarded up windows. Some are closed to avoid possible anti-capitalist
- Activists have vowed to block bridges to try to prevent
official delegations arriving at the city's airport from passing into France
to attend the summit.
- Others have published advice on the Internet on how to
evade the security, including swimming in spread-out lines across Lake
- Saturday's flare-up at Annemasse came when several hundred
police officers pushed back about 400 protestors trying to block access
to a meeting attended by a French Socialist Party delegation. No one was
- Shouting slogans against the Socialists, the demonstrators
later moved into the town centre where a number of cars were damaged, police
- An anti-G8 summit in Annemasse, which had been running
debates and rallies in recent days, closed Saturday with a concert devoted
to the cancellation of Third World debt.
- "We contest the idea that the world can be run by
a club of powerful people, without legitimacy," said Gus Massiah,
president of the French third world campaign group CRID.
- "They have been democratically elected to govern
their countries, but they have not received a mandate to govern the world."
- About 50 "fires of protest" lit up the skies
after dark Saturday, and bonfires were lit around the Swiss and French
shores of the lake.
- Earlier Saturday, about 200 demonstrators tried in vain
to approach a hotel in Geneva where heads of state from developing countries
- "Shame on you!" they cried, pointing toward
Evian as Swiss President Pascal Couchepin welcomed the leaders of developing
nations invited for an "enlarged dialogue" at the summit.
- Some 25 streakers daubed with red anti-G8 slogans also
staged a brief but high-visibility protest.
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