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The BBC's Peter Morgan
"Violence was predicted for Prague and it has been delivered"
 real 56k

Jubilee 2000, Lucy Mathew
"The scheme they are offering does not cancel enough debt"
 real 56k

The BBC's Ian Pannell in Prague
"There has been some violence- but not very much"
 real 28k

The BBC's Mike Donkin, in Prague
"The meetings have continued- its business as usual"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
Prague clashes subside overnight
Hooded anarchist confronting police brandishing a stick
Teargas is wafting in Prague's city centre as protesters clash with police
By BBC News Online's Steve Schifferes in Prague

Order is being restored after violent clashes in the Czech capital Prague between riot police and thousands of anti-globalisation protestors.

The demonstrators had been trying to disrupt the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

There were dozens of injuries as black-clad demonstrators threw rocks at the police, who replied with water cannon and tear gas. Many arrests were made.

Small groups of protesters managed to reach the Metro station next to the conference centre and the main hotel for delegates, where they were pushed back by police.

Czech policemen arresting a demonstrator
As protests turned violent, Czech police moved in to make arrests
Police dispersed the demonstrators, enabling the conference delegates to leave the conference on special sealed trains on Prague's subway system.

Small groups of protesters then moved on to Wenceslas Square, in the city centre, where the clashes continued late into the night.

The protesters hurled fireworks and paving stones at the police and attacked shops.

The relatively small numbers of police in the square appear to have had trouble coping with the violence, and local people were terrified.

Molotov cocktails

Earlier on Tuesday, hundreds of Czech riot police, equipped with water cannons and armoured personnel carriers, had blocked the main bridge leading to the conference venue.


But demonstrators split up into small groups and tried to storm the building from other directions.

Riot police raced to block them, as helicopters circled overhead and sirens wailed, while the sound of explosions - either tear gas grenades or fireworks set off by protesters - filled the air.

Across a railway line that separates the conference hall from the city centre, protesters wearing balaclavas and wielding sticks threw stones, bottles and several home-made "Molotov cocktails" at police.

Injuries

Several riot police officers were set alight before the flames were doused by colleagues, Reuters news agency reported.

Later, black smoke was seen rising from the area and fire engines arrived as anarchists made repeated attempts to storm the centre.

Armoured personell carriers in front of the conference centre
Armoured personel carriers are blocking the route for protesters
Ambulances were seen rushing to the area, and Czech radio reported that there were several minor injuries on both sides after the police used water cannon to break up the protests.

A third group of protesters came within a few hundred metres of the rear of the complex before being beaten back by police armed with water cannon, tear gas and police dogs.

A BBC cameraman said he saw several people injured by stones.

The protesters say their aim is the abolition of both the IMF and the World Bank, which they blame for growing poverty, inequality and environmental deterioration around the world.

The demonstrations are the latest in a series of anti-globalisation protests. They disrupted the meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle in December and the IMF and World Bank in Washington in April.

IMF 'necessary'

In the conference centre, IMF officials mounted a defence of their work, saying that economic globalisation required more co-operation, and institutions to organise it.

The IMF's new managing director, Horst Koehler, told BBC News Online that, if his organisation did not already exist, it would have had to be invented.

And his deputy, Stan Fischer, said that the IMF was listening to non-governmental organisations "who have some very good ideas, for example concerning debt relief".

But he condemned the protest groups who, he said, were not interested in constructive dialogue.

For their part, international environmental and debt relief campaigners issued a statement condemning the violence of the some of the protesters.

Jessica Woodroffe, of the UK pressure group World Development Movement, told BBC News Online that she hoped this would not distract people from the very real need to reform the way the IMF and World Bank operated.

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