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Five hurt in Cyprus in protest over British bases

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 2 Jan 2012 21:05 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Four police hurt in clashes with anti-base protesters

* TV cameraman hit by rock outside Akrotiri base

* Protests against British bases had been declining

NICOSIA, Jan 2 (Reuters) - At least five people were injured and two arrested during a protest against the presence of British military bases in Cyprus late on Monday, witnesses said.

Fighting broke out between Cypriot demonstrators and police guarding RAF Akrotiri, a sprawling compound on the southern tip of the eastern Mediterranean island.

According to a spokesperson for the bases, four civilian police officers employed to guard the bases were injured along with a television cameraman who was hit by a rock. Local media also reported injuries among demonstrators, some of whom threw rocks and sticks at the entrance of the tightly-guarded compound.

Britain has held sovereignty over two bases since Cyprus gained independence from London in 1960. The existence of British bases is regarded by many Cypriots as an unwelcome colonial remnant, though protests against their continued presence have waned in recent years.

London has given no sign it intends to hand them over.

Last month British Defence Minister Philip Hammond confirmed London's "enduring commitment" to the bases, saying they had proved their worth during air operations in Libya and as a logistic hub for activities in Afghanistan.

The RAF base at Akrotiri plus the army barracks at Dhekelia in the east together cover 98 sq miles (254 sq km) of Cyprus, or around 3 percent of its landmass. (Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Ben Harding)

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