Over 100 anti-war protesters arrested at NATO HQ

22/03/2008 - 15:32

By Yvonne Bell and Darren Ennis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Around 100 anti-war protesters werearrested trying to force their way into NATO's headquarters inBelgium on Saturday, police said.

Police in riot gear and on horses clashed with over 500activists from across Europe -- opposed to military action inIraq and Afghanistan and the use of nuclear weapons -- outsideNATO's Brussels hub.

Water cannons were used to prevent most of the protestersfrom gaining entry to the large security compound situated onthe outskirts of the Belgian capital and close to Brusselsnational airport.

At least one protester was taken to hospital with seriousinjuries after falling on barbed wire, a police spokeswomansaid. "We have arrested over 100 and they are being taken tocourt to be dealt with swiftly."

A NATO official said the compound had not been breached.

"Demonstrations are a feature of democracy. All we hope forwith any such protest is that it is done in a peaceful and safemanner," the official told Reuters.

NATO is a security and defence alliance of 26 countriesfrom North America and Europe with forces in Iraq, Afghanistan,Kosovo and Darfur.

Organisers of Saturday's "NATO Game Over" protest saywithout the military organisation, the wars in Iraq andAfghanistan would not be possible. They also oppose the use ofnuclear weapons.

"Today is close to the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraqand we are protesting against NATO's involvement and inparticular European countries which are allowing themselves tobe used as military hubs," anti-war campaigner Hans Lammeranttold Reuters.

"NATO has 350 U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Germany,Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and Turkey. Accordingto international humanitarian law these weapons are illegal."

(Editing by Richard Meares)

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