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The BBC's Nick Bryant
"They were caught in possession of a small arsenal of low grade explosives and military supplies"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 22:10 GMT 23:10 UK
Activists seized ahead of summit
Quebec City shop front
Shopkeepers have been boarding up their windows as a precaution against expected protests
Six Canadians alleged to be heading for the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City bearing flares, tear gas canisters and baseball bats were arrested on Wednesday after a long undercover operation, Quebec officials said.

Christine Mitton, of the province's public security department, said the men included one person serving in the Canadian military and one former soldier.

She said the men had been planning to disrupt the 34-nation summit, which starts on Friday.

Quebec city street
Authorities have erected a chain-link fence around the main venues
"They had been conspiring for a while to launch a high-profile, dangerous coup to disrupt the activities of the Americas Summit.

"They were part of an activist group of students and workers, including one member of the Canadian military," Ms Mitton said.

Due in court

Officials said the six people had been seized with explosives and military-style equipment, including four tear gas bombs and military flares and thunder flashes, which explode with loud bangs.

The six will appear in a Quebec City courthouse via video link late on Wednesday.

Security has been extremely tight in the run-up to the summit, which is due to discuss the creation of a free trade zone stretching from Canada to Chile.

Demonstrations planned

Anti-globalisation activists have promised large-scale demonstrations to protest against the meeting.

Quebec authorities have erected a 4 metre-high (13 ft) chain-link fence around the main venues and cleared a jail for those they expect to arrest.

Canada has already turned back at least 60 people trying to cross the border from the United States to protest against trade talks at the upcoming Summit of the Americas.

"Since 1 April, in our Quebec region, we have denied entry to roughly 60 people," said Richard Saint-Louis, a spokesman for Canada's Citizenship and Immigration department.

"Those were people that were obviously going to the summit."

Border officials expect the number to rise as thousands of activists from labour, environmental, political, social and student groups are expected to converge on Quebec City, to protest against the free trade zone.

The activists are opposed to the globalisation of trade, saying it exploits poorer countries to meet the corporate and government interests of the richer, developed world.

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