Page last updated at 19:14 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 20:14 UK

Bangkok relay for Olympic torch


Pro-China supporters face down Tibet protesters

Thousands of people have watched the Olympic torch pass through Bangkok, during the Thai leg of a worldwide relay held amid tight security.

More than 2,000 police guarded the torch, and barricades were set up along parts of the 10km route.

Hundreds of anti-China protesters were faced by Beijing supporters, but there was no major disruption.

Large protests over China's actions in Tibet marred the relay stages in San Francisco, Paris and London.

The BBC's Andrew Harding, in Bangkok, says there was a brief scuffle within seconds of the start of the relay as a Thai and a foreign pro-Tibetan independence activist tried to unfurl a banner.

The sign was quickly ripped from their hands by a group of Chinese men who surrounded the protesters, he said.

After the event in Bangkok, the torch was flown to Malaysia. It will be carried through the streets of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Monday.

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In Bangkok, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart was the first of 80 runners to set off from Chinatown.

"We reaffirm our position that we clearly separate politics and sport," AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

Our correspondent says Thailand has strong links to China and the relay stage has been publicly endorsed by the revered royal family.

In China's capital Beijing, Saturday saw protests over France's attitude towards Tibet and the Olympic Games outside French-owned Carrefour supermarkets.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has not confirmed that he will be attending the opening ceremony of the Olympics, citing concerns about human rights in Tibet.

The relay also includes stops in Indonesia, Australia, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam before the torch returns to Beijing for the Games in August.

Torch lit in Olympia on 24 March and taken on five-day relay around Greece to Athens
After handover ceremony, taken to Beijing on 31 March to begin a journey of 136,800 km (85,000 miles) around the world

Torch arrives in Macau on 3 May. After three-month relay all around China, it arrives in Beijing for opening ceremony on 8 August

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