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Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
Jordanians march towards West Bank
Jordanian protestors marching towards Allenby bridge
The march attracted massive crowds
Thousands of Jordanians have clashed with security forces as they attempted to cross a bridge that links Jordan to the West Bank.

Police at the Allenby bridge used tear gas, water cannon and truncheons to disperse the protesters, who included political activists, members of parliament and trades unionists.

One report said as many as 25,000 people took part in the march.

The event was organised to press for the right of return of Palestinian refugees, many of whom live in Jordan.

Defiance

The crowds carried Palestinian and Jordanian flags as they marched from the capital, Amman, chanting anti-Israeli slogans as they went along.

Jordanian tanks
Jordanian security forces had to mount a stiff challenge to halt the march

Some of the banners said: "Yes to cutting ties with the Zionist enemy" and "Yes to the right of return."

The violence broke out after the marchers failed to stop at the bridge as agreed earlier with security officials.

Following cries of "To the bridge, to the bridge," the marchers forced their way onto the crossing that would have led them to the West Bank side of the bridge, which is controlled by Israeli security forces.

The demonstrators were beaten into retreat by Jordanian police with baton, water cannon and tear gas, as helicopters hovered overhead.

Several demonstrators were taken to hospital after suffering from smoke inhalation.

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