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Organisers Say 400,000 At UK Anti-War Mobilsation

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Organisers Say 400,000 At UK Anti-War Mobilsation

Update 9:00 pm GMT In a powerful turnout of the opposition to the U.S. and U.K. driven proposals for war on Iraq, the anti-war demo organised by the Stop The War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain, and supported by CND attracted according to the organizers up to 400,000 demonstrators. The numbers equalled the numbers on the right-wing Countryside Alliance march a week earlier when (probably for the first time in history) police and organisers agreed on the same number of 'disaffected rural protesters' which included members of the Tory party, aristocracy and the BNP. That march was prepared for two years and costed 2 million pounds. Police had yesterday informed City of London Security that they were expecting 30-40,000 people on today's anti-war march, but by the afternoon had counted 'more than 150,000 people', adding there had been two arrests for minor public order offences.

Update 6:20 pm GMT The end of the march has reached Hyde Park where the speeches have finished at 6pm. The first people are leaving from the centre of the crowd, big presence of corporate media. Phone report that all side streets around Embankment, Whitehall and Trafalgar Sq were full of demonstrators having diverted from the main route of the march as there were so many people. The yellow smoke at Downing St actually came out of effigies of George Bush, Tony Blair and Berlusconi.

Update 4:50 pm GMT The demonstration continues to be peaceful and police are holding back. All shops along the route are open.

Update 4:10 pm GMT A megaphone announcement at Whitehall says that SkyTV have reported a 400,000 turnout. The BBC website speaks of "up to 250,000 demonstrators" whilst AP estimate in a wire report that it's 50,000.

Update 3:50 pm GMT The Samba Band has stopped in Whitehall in front of Downing St, dancing and a cloud of orange smoke is coming out of the crowd. The mood is festive with police not being too pushy. Reports from Trafalgar Sq talk of police being more tense there. Lots of police vans in sidestreets near Whitehall.

Update 3:20 pm GMT The crowd has already reached Trafalgar Sq with people still leaving Embankment station. Police try to control the crowd by cordoning off the street with crash barriers, diverting people on the right lane to the march, and people on the left lane onto a roundabout. Demonstrators have started to jump the fence. Police have violently dragged an IMC reporter taking phoptographs off the fence [audio report] but have now allowed people to pass the fence one by one after tense exchanges of words. Asked how many people there were, a policeman said: "Haven't got a clue. Hundreds of thousands. Can't even hear my radio, mate." First telephone reports estimate the crowd to be half a million [report]. Meanwhile in Trafalgar Sq two marches are merging: the planned one from Parliament Sq and the other coming down the Strand.

Update 2:30 pm GMT After the demonstration had started at 1:30 pm, masses of people are making their way past Parliament towards Trafalgar Square, the front of the march having reached Hyde Park already.

ENDS

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