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The BBC's Peter Morgan in Prague
"The gloves are off in Prague"
 real 56k

Chelsea Mozen, protest organiser
"What was happening in the building was overlooked and the battles on the streets were focused on"
 real 56k

Mats Karlsson, World Bank
"Peoples sense of common purpose was intensified"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Prague IMF summit ends early
Protesters attack bank in Wenceslas Square
Banks and global corporations were attacked overnight
The International Monetary Fund, IMF, has ended the formal sessions of its annual summit a day earlier than scheduled following days of riots by anti-globalisation activists in Prague.

The South African Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, who was chairman of the meeting, delivered his concluding remarks to an almost empty hall, saying: "It is a pity that it has descended into violence."

But an IMF spokesman, David Hawley, denied that the riots had stopped their work.

"They moved more quickly than anticipated, they finished ahead of time... It has nothing to do with the protests," Mr Hawley said.

Officials said the bulk of their work was completed over the weekend and that few bilateral meetings were still going on. A formal news conference scheduled for Thursday is expected to go ahead.

Early on Wednesday, Czech riot police surrounded protesters who attempted to march onto a police station where about 400 of the anti-globalisation activists are being held.

The protesters gathered in Peace Square just before their planned march but were stopped in their tracks by a determined anti-riot police.

The protesters then staged a sit-in on the road as they were surrounded by police.

The Mayor of Prague described the protesters as professional trouble-makers and said their actions had angered the people of Prague.

Czech policemen arresting a demonstrator
As protests turned violent, Czech police moved in to make arrests

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

President Vaclav Havel ,accompanied by his interior minister, Stanislas Gross and Prague police chief Jiri Kolar toured the downtown area of the city which wad damaged by riots on Tuesday night.

Dozens were injured during the violence, including a Russian and Japanese delegate, as protesters went on the rampage throwing fireworks and cobblestones at the police, who replied with water cannon and tear gas.

The demonstrations were the latest in a series of anti-globalisation protests, which have disrupted summits of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle in December and the IMF and World Bank in Washington in April.

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See also:

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Watching the riots
26 Sep 00 | Europe
In pictures: Prague protests
26 Sep 00 | Entertainment
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20 Sep 00 | Business
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Does growth benefit the poor?
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Who are the Prague protesters?
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