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Tibet activists protest near Olympics venue

  • Story Highlights
  • Tibetan flags, pro-independence banners unfurled near National Stadium
  • "Four foreigners" rushed away after incident, Chinese reports say
  • Tibetan activist group says activists are from U.S., UK
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Four Tibet activists unfurled Tibetan flags and pro-independence banners near National Stadium in Beijing early Wednesday, just two days ahead of the start of the Summer Olympic Games.

This photo from Students for a Free Tibet shows a protester on a lamp post in Beijing.

This photo from Students for a Free Tibet shows a protester on a lamp post in Beijing.

Two men in the group scaled electric poles shortly after dawn to display banners bearing pro-Tibetan independence slogans and the flag of the Tibetan government in exile.

Police rushed to the scene and took away "four foreigners" -- three men and a woman -- shortly after the protest, which is believed to be the first at a venue of the Games, which start Friday.

Students for a Free Tibet, a Tibetan activist group, said in a statement that those involved in the demonstration were from the United States and Britain.

The group said the signs, which carried English and Chinese slogans including: "One World, One Dream: Free Tibet", "Tibet Will Be Free," and "Free Tibet" -- were on display for about an hour. Police said it was only about 12 minutes. Video Watch protesters unfurl banner »

The demonstrators entered China on tourist visas, police said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Tibet-related protests disrupted several stages of a worldwide Olympic torch relay in the run up to the Games as protesters used events to spotlight concerns over China's policies regarding the Himalayan territory. Video Watch a report on fears of further Tibet pro-independence protests »

In an apparent recognition of the international attention it will receive during the Games, China last month said it was setting up designated protest zones in Beijing for demonstrators to air grievances.

In another Olympic-related development Wednesday, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf canceled plans to visit China for the Olympic opening ceremony, according to Pakistani state media.

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Musharraf, who has struggled to retain a grip on power in Pakistan during months of recent political turmoil, scrapped his plans "due to developments at home," the foreign office told the Associated Press of Pakistan.

The president was scheduled to visit China from Wednesday through Saturday. He was to attend the opening ceremony on Friday and meet with Chinese leaders and other heads of state, the news agency said.

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