Protesters storm Prestwick over US military flights

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The Independent Online

Security was increased at Prestwick airport yesterday after anti-war protesters cut through the perimeter fence and boarded a US military plane looking for weapons en route to the Middle East.

The self-styled Civilian Weapons Inspectors breached the Ayrshire airfield's defences and ran on to the runaway shortly after 3.30am in protest at the use of the airport as a refuelling stop for American planes carrying bombs to Israel.

Three of the protesters, two men and a woman, from the anti-nuclear campaign group Trident-Ploughshares, boarded a transport plane through an open door and sat in the cockpit for almost 30 minutes before police arrived. Four other campaigners, two men and two women, were also arrested at the airport.

"We've been told that Prestwick is no longer being used by the US military to transport hazardous materials, but we suspect that this is not true," said David Mackenzie, spokesman for the group.

"Security was incredibly lax," said Mr Mackenzie, who added the protesters had accessed the plane by cutting through the perimeter fence unchallenged.

Although the group did not find any weapons and said the plane appeared to be carrying personnel only, protesters have set up a peace camp at the airport.

Other peace camps are expected to be established this week at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Brize Norton, where weapons transportations from the US to Israel are also alleged to have landed.

"The government must put a stop to these transportations," said Kate Hudson, chairwoman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. "They make us complicit in the deaths of innocent civilians."