Anti-Globalisation protesters tear-gassed at Hong Kong trade talks

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of protesters broke through police lines and came close to storming into a meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Hong Kong yesterday before security forces scattered the crowd with tear gas.

In the worst street violence the city has experienced in decades, police locked the doors to the convention centre, where trade ministers from around the world were in the final hours of a six-day round of negotiations. Police said 41 people were injured, but only two needed hospital treatment. The authorities detained 900 people and were deciding whether to make formal arrests.

Security forces spent much of the afternoon fighting street battles with the protesters, who included South Korean farmers as well as activists from Europe and America.

The protesters, demonstrating against the WTO's efforts to open up global markets, hit police with bamboo sticks and used a metal barrier to ram a line of officers armed with riot shields. The police fought back with clubs, pepper spray and cannons that shot water mixed with a chemical that burns the skin and eyes.

The tear gas dispersed the protesters and the police were able to retake the area around the convention centre. The demonstrators then started a sit-in, shutting down one of Hong Kong's busiest streets.

Inside the WTO venue, there was chaos when a rumour spread that the protesters had entered the building. Security guards at the entrance fled upstairs, leaving the checkpoint unmanned.

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