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Arms fair protest: Dozens arrested

Police remove from the street an anti-war demonstrator.
Police remove from the street an anti-war demonstrator.

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LONDON, England -- Police have arrested dozens of people who were planning protests outside Europe's biggest arms show but say demonstrations were peaceful.

The Defence Systems & Equipment International (DSEi) event, held at the ExCel Centre in London's Royal Docks, is showcasing a range of military hardware from around the globe.

Military top brass and defense ministers from countries including Algeria, Angola, Colombia, Pakistan and India are attending the four-day show to see exhibits from about 950 companies.

Police said although dozens of people planning protests had been arrested, demonstrations were peaceful, with only three arrests on Tuesday morning, raising the total number of arrests in connection with the arms fair to 54.

The officer in charge of policing said last week that he was concerned that protests by about 60 anti-arms and anti-globalization groups could turn into a riot.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Trotter told the UK Press Association: "Our concern would be if the demonstration turns into riots or damage and we have got to be prepared to deal with that."

More than 2,600 security guards and officers were to be at the site, including 25 military police officers who will be inside the exhibition center.

Civil rights group Liberty said police were making "illegal" use of anti-terrorism measures against protesters outside the exhibition centre. Scotland Yard denied the allegations.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) has promised that protests at this year's DSEi event will be the largest anti-arms trade demonstrations.

A Eurofighter Typhoon will be on display at the fair.

A spokesman said the group would attempt to disrupt the event in a number of ways, including holding a procession to the East London venue.

Reclaim the Streets was due to hold a street party in the Docklands area on Wednesday -- which has been designated a day of "wildcat" direct action by activists.

On the same day, a group known as Destroy DSEi was planning to set up a series of blockades around the event.

The exhibition was opened by UK Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon on Tuesday.

Six warships are docked alongside the center and a Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighter and an Apache attack helicopter are in the exhibition hall itself.

Several companies were showing details of systems that can be installed on civil aircraft to confuse surface-to-air missiles.

The military equipment on display is matched by a heavy security presence, as police seek to prevent anti-arms activists from disrupting the event.

About half the exhibitors are British firms, with 20 percent from the U.S. and the remainder from other NATO countries.

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