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Violent clashes at student demonstrations in London

Friday December 10, 2010 06:40:45 AM, DPA

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London: Violent clashes between police and students demonstrating against higher university fees erupted in London Thursday, leading to scores of arrests and injuries on both sides.

Scotland Yard said a police officer was taken to hospital with serious neck injuries after being knocked down by crowds of protestors outside the Houses of Parliament.

A second officer injured a leg when he was pulled off a police horse, police said. There were also reports of several injuries among protestors, and dozens of arrests. London Ambulance Service said six people had been treated for injuries.

The clashes were the worst seen on London streets for some time. Demonstrations also took place in at least a dozen other major cities across Britain.

Police on horseback charged into the crowd outside Westminster Abbey to push the demonstrators back from the Houses of Parliament, where the planned increase in tuition fees was being debated before a vote.

Groups of protestors had earlier broken through police lines, hurling metal barriers, sticks, snooker balls, paintballs, and other missiles.

BBC TV showed footage of one demonstrators being carried away by police, reportedly with a head injury. Inside, parliament members debated a planned increase in annual tuition fees, from the current level of 3,290 pounds ($5,200) to a maximum of 9,000 pounds.

The measures have proved to be the first crucial test for the Conservative-Liberal government since it came to power in May.

The Liberals, led by Nick Clegg, have been the prime targets of student anger, as they ruled out an increase in fees during the election campaign and said they would phase out the charge over six years.

While the government argues that the trebling of fees is necessary to secure sustainable long-term funding for university education, critics maintain that students from less well-off backgrounds will be deterred from opting for university education.

A large number of pupils, some as young as 12, have joined the protests. Student numbers in Britain have risen from 157,000 in 1990 to more than 480,000 in 2010.


 

 

 

 

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