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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 12:53 GMT
'Greenham grannies' protest at RAF Fairford
Fairford peace camp
Peace protesters have set up camp near the base
Two women have been arrested as a group of veteran peace campaigners gathered at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire to voice their opposition to a possible war with Iraq.

Up to 50 elderly women - many in their 70s and 80s and calling themselves the 'Grannies for Peace' - are protesting outside the base, home to US B-52s in the run-up to a potential conflict in the Gulf.

Led by Greenham Common protest founder Ann Pettitt, the campaigners sat outside the base's main entrance holding flowers, knitting, singing, dancing and holding banners.

The women, some of whom were in wheelchairs, linked arms to stop military vehicles and laid daffodils across the entrance to the base.

A B-52 flying
14 B-52s are stationed at the base

Two women, 45 and 37, were arrested in the afternoon on suspicion of obstructing the highway.

They were later released without charge but were reported for the obstruction of the highway.

Police had earlier said the women were "wilfully and unlawfully obstructing the base entrance".

Ms Pettitt, 54, from west Wales, said: "We aim to interfere with the smooth running of the base by blocking the main entrance."

She said the protest had taken 10 days to organise via the Internet and that women had come from all over the country.

They plan to hand letters to the base commander before continuing to blockade the main entrance.

'No justification'

Ms Pettitt added: "I am protesting against the B-52s that are going to war and being stationed on British soil.

"The decisions to make war are overwhelmingly carried out by men. We women think about the victims of war. When you talk about the enemy we just see other mothers' sons.

"There are no ends that justify the means of the massive bombardment of Iraq."

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon gave permission for 14 long-range B52 bombers to be stationed at RAF Fairford two weeks ago ahead of possible action in Iraq.

The base has been the focus of a number of peace protests, and a peace camp has been set up in the grounds of a nearby pub.

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