Sunday, March 8, 2009

AFP - Protestors riot over Sweden-Israel Davis Cup match

Saturday, March 7

Protestors riot over Sweden-Israel Davis Cup match

MALMOE, Sweden (AFP) — More than 100 masked demonstrators clashed Saturday with Swedish police outside a sports arena amid a larger protest against the Scandinavian country's Davis Cup tie against Israel.

Youths clad in black, their faces covered with masks, threw bottles of paint, stones and firecrackers at police in riot squad vans and on horseback, sending the horses into a panic.

One of the demonstrators climbed onto a police van and, applauded by the crowd, stomped on its flashing lights until they were smashed to bits.

Another demonstrator drew a large "A" on the window of a police car.

"We are ... anarchists who want to protest against the fact that there are this many police officers to protect the representatives of a repressive occupying force that massacred so many innocent people in Gaza," the demonstrator, who identified himself only as Jan, told AFP.

The large police deployment then charged the demonstrators, who were shouting "stop the match," and arrested at least five people, police spokesman Lars-Haakan Lindholm said.

The violent demonstrators were part of a larger, authorised demonstration organised by the Stop the Match network to protest against Israel's recent offensive in Gaza.

The march, which gathered between 6,000 and 10,000 demonstrators according to various estimates from police and organisers, wound up around 3:30 pm (1430 GMT).

Police were also stationed early Saturday around Malmoe's train station to check trains from neighbouring Denmark for troublemakers.

Due to security fears, Malmoe city council had ordered the three-day World Group first round match played behind closed doors.

On Friday, some 200 people demonstrated peacefully outside the Baltiska Hallen arena, as Sweden and Israel each won a singles match.

On Saturday, Sweden won the doubles match, as Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt defeated Israel's Amir Hadad and Andy Ram 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.

Inside the stadium, only teams, media and guests were allowed in the stands which normally seat 4,000 people.

The tie wraps up on Sunday, when two singles matches are to be played.

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