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Anti-War Protests Roll Across Asia; Some Turn Violent - 2003-03-26

Protest demonstrations against the U.S.-led war in Iraq continue across Asia, and some of them have turned violent.

Anti-war protesters clashed with riot police in Sydney in what was Australia's most violent demonstration against the war. Some of the protesters attacked police with bottles, while others threw chairs and tables from sidewalk cafes.

A part of the crowd later vented their anger at Australian participation in the conflict by throwing bottles at the building where Prime Minister John Howard has his office. Forty-five people were reportedly arrested. Protest organizers say 15,000 people took part in the demonstration, but police put the number at about 2,000.

Tuesday, a new survey was published showing that, for the first time since the war began, more Australian voters support the war than oppose it. Australia has committed 2,000 troops to the U.S.-led coalition.

South Korean demonstrators in Seoul tried to break through security cordons and enter the heavily guarded American Embassy. Thirty people, who climbed walls to unfurl a banner, were arrested during the sometimes violent clashes between protesters and police.

In Indonesia, Muslim groups have called for a boycott of American films. In Tokyo, the Japanese government turned down an American request to close the Iraqi embassy. Although it supports the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Japan wants to keep its diplomatic channels open with Baghdad.

In Bangkok, Iraq's embassy staff denied a report that it had closed its embassy following the expulsion of three of its employees last week. The expulsion left one Iraqi diplomat and one clerical employee in Bangkok.