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24-hour curfew is imposed in Seattle

WITH STREET battles between protesters and riot police still going on, the mayor of Seattle imposed a 24-hour curfew on the city centre yesterday.

Paul Schell said that only people on official business would be allowed into a 46-block area around the centre where the World Trade Organisation is meeting. The curfew will last until the official end of the WTO meting tomorrow. "Our responses will be swift," Mr Schell said. "Anybody who engages in improper behaviour will be dealt with."

More than 500 people have already been arrested during the week of violence in the city. Civil liberties groups reacted in outrage to what is the first such round-the-clock curfew since the Second World War, when Seattle ordered Japanese citizens off the streets before interning them. "I have never encountered anything like this in a US city and I hope never to again," said Mike Dolan, of the protest group Global Trade Watch. The American Civil Liberties Union said it would challenge the "no protest zone" in the federal court as it infringes Americans' rights to free assembly and free speech.

The success of the talks themselves was in the balance last night, with officials warning that unless concessions were made on agriculture, labour standards and other issues, a deal could slip away. The chaos that surrounded the meeting on Tuesday helped to set back early progress.

Further reports, pages 16-17

David Aaronovitch,

Review, page 3