Pro-Tamil protest halts central London

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The Independent Online

Pro-Tamil demonstrators today caused traffic chaos as they mounted a sit-down protest on a busy road opposite the Houses of Parliament.

Hundreds of protesters moved en masse to occupy parts of Bridge Street and Westminster Bridge, a major thoroughfare through central London.

Traffic in the area has been diverted and a large police presence has gathered around the protesters with police helicopters circling above Parliament Square.

Protesters have been demonstrating in the Square for a number of weeks to draw attention to the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Yesterday the rebel Tamil Tigers conceded defeat in their bloody 25-year conflict with Sri Lanka's Government which has claimed an estimated 70,000 lives.

A police source said the protesters moved en masse at around 4pm from the grassy area in the square to sit down on the neighbouring road.

A large number of children are among the protesters.

Many prams could be seen among a sea of flags and banners belonging to the seated demonstrators.

A London bus and a number of vans cut off by the protest were sitting motionless at the heart of the demonstration.