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Last Updated:  Saturday, 8 March, 2003, 16:28 GMT
Rain dampens anti-war protest
Protesters at the head of one of three marches in Manchester
Non-protesters were advised to stay away from the city centre
An anti-war protest in Manchester on Saturday failed to attract the numbers predicted by organisers and police.

More than 20,000 people were expected to take part in marches and a peace rally, but heavy rain led to about 10,000 turning out.

Marchers had set out from three separate points around the city, before converging on the centre for the rally.

The demonstration coincided with International Womens' Day, and other protests took place across England and Wales.

We just want to show that any war in Iraq is not taking place in our name
Tracy McNally, demonstrator

Police in Manchester said there was "about 10,000 people in the area" around Albert Square, where the peace rally was taking place.

Richard Searle, one of the organisers of the march, said there were possibly 12,000 people attending.

He told BBC News Online: "If the weather had been different we would have definitely had the number here we expected.

"But the fact there was still more than 10,000 inspired to turn up shows the strength of opposition to war in Iraq."

Police estimated that 7,000 people took part in the marches from Salford, Cheetham Hill and Rusholme, with several thousand more going straight to Albert Square.

Speakers at the rally reiterated the "no more blood for oil" theme of the demonstration.

War deadline

First time demonstrator, Tracy McNally, from Didsbury, Manchester, who was there with her five-year-old daughter said the reason for attending was simple.

"We just want to show that any war in Iraq is not taking place in our name," she said.

Earlier on Saturday Kay Phillips, a GP from Harpurhey, told BBC GMR : "We [had to] try and get Blair not to ignore what people think."

Their protests came as a lengthy document by weapons inspectors was delivered to the United Nations, and the prospect of war loomed as early as 17 March.

In the document, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix claimed Iraq has failed to answer a wide range of questions about its weapons programme.




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