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The BBC's Tabitha Morgan
"Around a thousand demonstrators stormed the police station at RAF Akrotiri"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 06:02 GMT 07:02 UK
Cyprus protesters clash at UK base
Cyprus map
Angry crowds pelted sticks and stones at British military bases in Cyprus on Tuesday evening over plans to build a huge telecommunications masts at UK bases on the island.

A British military spokesman said 40 police officers were injured and a police station destroyed at the western base of Akrotiri. Eight of the injured were still in hospital on Wednesday.

Troops in riot gear faced a crowd of about 500 Greek Cypriots and fired tear gas, in clashes which lasted all evening.

I can say this is one of the most violent and abhorrent acts of lawlessness ever seen in Cyprus

Robert Need
British military spokesman

Twelve vehicles belonging to British forces personnel were gutted, and the provisional cost of repairs was put at Cú100,000 ($170,000).

Earlier on Tuesday Greek Cypriots burst into a British police station near Akrotiri, and demanded the release of a member of parliament who had been arrested for trying to break into the base.

MP Marios Matsakis, who has leading protests against the planned masts, was later released.

The local Sigma TV reported that about 1,000 local people had gathered outside the Episkopi base police station in southern Cyprus and burst through the gates, forcing police to lock themselves in the building.


Witnesses said some cars had been set on fire and brush fires had been started.

"We will burn them down," yelled one Greek Cypriot youth.

Helicopters were brought in to help control the fires.

BBC correspondent Tabitha Morgan said there were unconfirmed reports that troops had to rescue British tourists whose car was stoned by protesters.

A British military spokesman called the protests "one of the most violent and abhorrent acts of lawlessness ever seen in Cyprus".

On Monday, protesters scaled an existing mast and refused to come down for six hours.

Protesters say the six low-frequency masts to be built near UK bases by 2003 will emit radiation that could seriously harm local residents, especially children.

They are also concerned about possible effects on migratory birds.

British authorities deny there is any risk to health, and say the antennae are needed for the UK military's global communications network.

There are about 3,500 British soldiers based on Cyprus.

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14 Jun 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Cyprus
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