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Protest ban at Munich meeting

Police lead away a man injured in the riots in Genoa last July  

MUNICH, Germany -- The city of Munich has banned all demonstrations for the duration of a conference of world defence ministers and military officials this weekend.

Officials had feared protests along the lines of those at the G8 conference in Genoa, Italy last year which ended with police killing a demonstrator.

Police said messages posted on Web sites by militant groups had given them cause for concern.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, his German counterpart Rudolf Scharping, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and NATO Secretary-General George Robertson are among several hundred participants expected at the annual Munich Conference on Security.

More than 100 outside organisations had planned to target the conference to demonstrate against militarism.

One Web site, "Against the Munich Security Conference" urges people to join three major demonstrations, saying:

"The gathering ... try to make the public believe that the main topic of this conference is the keeping of peace in the whole world and the international security. The opposite is true: They are planning the next war!"

Munich police plan to deploy up to 3,000 officers and will have more on stand-by.

"We are engaged in intensive preparation," a spokesman told Reuters. "We have become concerned at some demonstrators' willingness to use violence, particularly when we look at the Web sites set up by the various organisers."

Lawyers for the protesters said they would appeal against the ban issued by the Munich city government. A decision on an appeal is expected shortly before the conference opens on Friday evening.

Demonstration organisers have said they will protest whether their legal appeal is successful or not.

In Genoa last July, one protester was killed, 231 people were injured and more than 280 were arrested -- many of them German -- during three days of street clashes between Italian police and demonstrators at the G8 summit.


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