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G8 agitators stopped at borders

Genoa poster
Poster advertising Genoa train trip  


MILAN, Italy (CNN) -- Border authorities in Europe have acted to stop known trouble-makers reaching the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy.

On the Franco-Italian frontier, border controls were stepped up, with police searching for potential troublemakers on coaches arriving from Spain.

French officials said listed British activists would be stopped at Calais and Germany said it would stop travellers suspected of planning violent protests at the border with Italy.

The French state railways, SNCF, cancelled a special train chartered by 500 British Globalise Resistance activists dubbed "the anarchists' express."

Italian police were using special search powers to target groups such as the "Insurrectional Anarchists" -- an Italian, Spanish and Greek movement vowing to breach the summit security zone.

More than 700 people were turned back at Italy's borders because they were thought to be trouble-makers.

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Genoese police stopped what they described as an armoured truck and seized clubs, a hatchet, wigs and other objects protesters might have used to disrupt the summit.

Police arrested the German driver and said they would deport four others who were in the truck -- three Germans and a Pole.

Police also searched a camp at a city sports stadium on Wednesday morning where the "Tute Bianche" (White Overalls) -- one of the most hard-line protest groups -- are staying for the duration of the summit.

Many city shops had signs up on Wednesday saying they were "on holiday." A branch of the McDonalds fast food chain -- a prime target of the demonstrators -- was covered over with chipboard.

Most of the protesters say they are peaceful, but authorities fear a hard core could repeat the scenes of violence seen at last month's European Union summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, and at several previous international gatherings.

Amnesty International however warned Italian police against "heavy handed" tactics and said the rights of people engaged in peaceful protest should be protected.

The British group Globalise Resistance said they would be taking legal action after the cancellation of their special train.

Spokesman Guy Taylor said: "We are fighting this decision. On our train are pensioners, trade unionists, children, socialists and environmentalists.

"We have a huge amount of support for our right to demonstrate. It shows the weakness of the authorities and their policies that they feel it necessary to stop people having a voice at all."

Despina Mavrou, also from Globalise Resistance, asked "What are they scared of? We only want to put the case for preserving the environment and cancelling third world debt. This whole thing is ridiculous."

One of the leaders of the anti-globalisation movement, French farmer Jose Bove, said he would be in Genoa to add his voice to the protests. He was briefly detained as he tried to enter Italy from France, but was soon allowed access.

"There is no question that I won't be in Genoa," he said.

The official G8 Summit Web site said it was not so much violence by the demonstrators that they feared most, but "the possibility of a terrorist attack."

The head of Russia's Federal Bodyguard Service has warned of a plot by terrorist Osama bin Laden to assassinate George W. Bush at the summit and the U.S. President may be staying at U.S. Camp Darby military base in Livorno or offshore on the American aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise.

Other G8 leaders are staying on a luxury liner moored offshore.






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