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Page last updated at 04:25 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 05:25 UK

Olympic torch arrives in Canberra

Jiang Xiaoyu, left, Executive VP of the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee, and local aboriginal elder Agnes Shea, 23 April 2008
The torch arrived at a military air base in Canberra

The Olympic torch has arrived in the Australian capital, Canberra, amid tight security on the latest leg of its troubled progress around the world.

The authorities fear a repeat of the violence which has blighted its arrival in other cities such as London, Paris and San Francisco.

The torch will be relayed through Canberra on Thursday.

Australian PM Kevin Rudd says the authorities will come down "like a tonne of bricks" on violent protesters.

The torch arrived at an air force base in Canberra before being taken to an undisclosed location ahead of Thursday's relay.

'Defend the flame'

A metre-high wire fence has been erected along the route of the procession, which has been shortened because of concerns about security. Hundreds of police will be deployed.

Demonstrators against Chinese rule in Tibet and Beijing's human rights record are expected as well as pro-China protestors.

Many Chinese students have been urged on websites to turn out to "protect and defend the flame".

Organisers abandoned plans to run the Olympic flame past the Chinese embassy, fearing it could become a flashpoint for protests.

Warning against violence, Mr Rudd said: "What I can say loud and clear, if any protester irrespective of their political point of view engages in unruly, disruptive, violent, unlawful behaviour then the police will come down on them like a tonne of bricks.

"Peaceful protest, yes - violent protest, under no circumstances."

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Protesters in Sydney unfurl a banner before being led away by police

Confusion

The BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney says there has been confusion about the role of Chinese guards who are travelling with the torch.

The Australian government has insisted they will have no security role in Canberra, while the Chinese Ambassador has said they may have to intervene if the flame is attacked, he says.

Government and Olympic officials were on hand to welcome the torch when it arrived, as was aboriginal elder, Agnes Shea.

"I welcome the Olympic torch to Australia in the spirit of peace on behalf of my people, whose history in this place goes back to the beginning of time," said Ms Shea.

"May its stay here be one that symbolises good will for all mankind."

Protest in Jakarta, 22/04
The police dealt with a protest outside the stadium in Jakarta

Earlier, the torch passed through Indonesia, where it was paraded around a sports stadium in Jakarta.

As in other cities the original 20km (15 mile) route was cut due to security fears.

Police broke up a small protest by pro-Tibetan demonstrators near the stadium, and detained several people.

Protests in Athens, London, Paris and San Francisco - where demonstrators angry at the Chinese occupation of Tibet tried to disrupt processions - have dominated media coverage of the torch relay.

However, the flame has made relatively peaceful progress through other cities, including Bangkok in Thailand and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.




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