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2 Activists Set Fire to Themselves in London

Demonstration is the latest held to protest a French crackdown on Iranian exile group.

June 21, 2003|From Associated Press

PARIS — Two men set themselves on fire outside the French Embassy in London on Friday, bringing to nine the number of people who have set themselves ablaze to protest France's crackdown on an Iranian opposition group.

French police said they have detained 208 people for violating the country's new ban on protests by supporters of the Moujahedeen Khalq. All but 18 have been released.

The government said the ban, imposed Wednesday, is an effort to stop people from setting themselves on fire. But the measure failed to prevent supporters of the group from demonstrating Friday outside Paris' Notre Dame cathedral.

Police quickly broke up the demonstration, questioning 75 participants on the scene before releasing them.

In London, the two Moujahedeen Khalq supporters set themselves on fire in separate protests outside the French Embassy. One man was hospitalized in serious condition. The other person's condition was not immediately known.

There have been other such incidents in London this week. Attempts at self-immolation by Moujahedeen Khalq supporters have also occurred in Paris, Rome and Bern, Switzerland.

Activists are protesting a French police operation Tuesday that rounded up 165 members of the Iranian opposition group, which has been accused of terrorism by the United States and the European Union.

A Washington-based spokesman for the group accused France of seeking favor with Iran by cracking down on the opposition group.

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