U.S. opponents attack Coca-Cola plant in India, hold protest rallies in other countries

Sunday, October 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HYDERABAD, India (AP) _ Maoist guerillas protesting the U.S. strikes against Afghanistan attacked a Coca-Cola plant in southern India on Sunday, blasting dynamite and causing significant damage to the facility.

Elsewhere around the world, protests against the American military campaign were more peaceful, with demonstrators filling streets and crowding mosques. Thousands turned out in Spain, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries.

At least a dozen armed guerillas of the outlawed Peoples' War Group attacked the Coca Cola plant near the town of Mangalagiri in India's southern Andhra Pradesh state, police said.

The guerrillas cut telephone and electric lines before overpowering security guards and blasting several parts of the plant with dynamite and land mines.

Police estimated the damage at $140,000. Coca-Cola said there were no injuries because the plant had been closed for maintenance, but it was beefing up security at other plants.

The attackers left a note that said America is the biggest terrorist state and is trying to dominate all other countries, according to Police Superintendent A. Purnachandra Rao.

In Spain, more than 15,000 protesters marched through the center of Madrid chanting ``Peace, Yes! War, No!'' and carrying placards that read ``No to the bombing of any people.''

``It's despicable for the United States to do this in the name of peace and justice, especially given that it itself has supported so many dictatorships,'' said 68-year-old Spanish protester Enrique Abad.

Some 3,000 Muslims gathered in the central Indonesian city of Solo, holding banners reading ``Osama bin Laden is a true holy warrior, not a terrorist'' and ``Islam unite, destroy the American infidels,'' witnesses said.

In Thailand, more than 20,000 gathered in mosques to pray for Afghanistan, with the main services taking place in Bangkok and the southern provinces of Nakhon Sri Thammarat and Pattani.

At one mosque in Bangkok, the Thai capital, vendors sold red-and-black T-shirts featuring full-color pictures of bin Laden, the main suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. U.S. forces have attacked Afghanistan to force the ruling Taliban to hand over bin Laden.

``We want to pray for our Muslim brothers who suffered in Afghanistan. Our stance is to ask Allah to bless our brothers to be safe and survive,'' said Waewueramae Mamingji, chairman of the Islamic Committee of Pattani.

After the prayers, organizers issued a resolution calling for Muslims to boycott goods from the United States, Britain and Germany. Muslims were urged also not to shop at Western-owned supermarkets.

Relatively small demonstrations were held in Pakistan, where President Pervez Musharraf has supported the United States. The largest protest was held in Rawalpindi, where more than 2,000 supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami party shouted ``Bush is a dog! Musharraf is a dog!''

They raised hands to show that they have volunteered for jihad, or holy war, against the United States.

A slightly smaller crowd protested in the port city of Karachi, which has 12 million people. In the eastern border city of Lahore, only around 150 people turned up at a rally.

In London, as many as 500 anti-war protesters sat silently opposite Downing Street, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's official residence. Some held white flowers, while others waved large banners and placards painted with anti-war slogans such as ``Food not Bombs.''

In Greece, about 600 protesters placed large cement blocks across the road leading to the Souda Bay navy base on the island of Crete. The base is being used to supply American forces near Afghanistan.

About 150 police officers stood by as the protesters chanted ``Shut the base!'' and shouted insults against the United States.

In Berlin, the ATTAC anti-globalization group that helped organize mass protests at the Genoa G-8 meeting in July declared Sunday that it would now oppose the U.S. attacks in Afghanistan.

``Our movement against neo-liberal globalization is now also an anti-war movement,'' the group said in a statement following a weekend meeting of members.