Protesters camp in London, Frankfurt after clashes

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Hundreds of protesters camped out in London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam on Sunday, holding a second day of action against corporate greed and budget cuts in Europe's financial centres.

Rallies swept cities in 80 countries around the globe Saturday, inspired by the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and the "Indignants" campaign launched six months ago in Spain.

In London, several hundred anti-capitalist demonstrators camped in front of St Paul's Cathedral in London's financial district, setting up about 70 tents in a movement mirroring the Manhattan protest launched last month.

"We will stay as long as we need to," said graphic designer Justin, 27, who declined to give his surname, adding that he was protesting due to "disillusion with our current economic system".

"Keep Calm And Occupy London", read one banner. "Bail out people, Not the banks", read another.

A long table filled with cake, biscuits and bottles of water served as a makeshift kitchen, while a media tent and a medical centre were also on hand.

In Amsterdam, around 300 people were camped out in the square in front of the stock exchange Sunday, one of the organisers, Seth Lievense, told AFP.

"At the moment, there are people who are very motivated to stay for a long time in the square," he said.

"Days, nights, weeks -- their desire for change is enormous."

In Frankfurt, around 200 people were camped in front of the European Central Bank, which has been in the eye of the storm over the euro, under threat by Europe's ongoing debt crisis.

There were also clashes in New York where the "Occupy Wall Street" movement has gained pace and police made 92 arrests there.

Earlier Sunday, Chicago police detained 175 people as they cleared a protest camp in the city's Grant Park.

On Saturday, tens of thousands turned out at the biggest rallies in Lisbon, Madrid and Rome. In Lisbon alone, 50,000 turned out.

The protests passed off mostly peacefully but in Rome a few hundred among tens of thousands of protesters set cars alight, smashed up banks and hurled rocks at riot police, who responded by firing tear gas and water cannon jets.

It was the worst street violence in Rome in years, with 135 injured, most of whom were police officers. Two protesters injured by explodings smoke bombs had fingers amputated. Police arrested 12 people.

Some newspapers hailed what they saw as the birth of a new global movement.

"The Indignados movement rises again with global force," Spain's El Pais daily said.

Italy's Repubblica columnist Eugenio Scalfari wrote: "The fact is there is now clearly an international movement. Its preface was the 'Arab Spring'.

"It expresses the anger of a generation with no future and no faith in traditional politics but above all financial institutions seen as responsible for the crisis and profiteers of the damage to the common good," he added.

But Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno said the damage to public property from the riots the day before cane to a million euros ($1.4 million).

The Vatican deplored the destruction of a crucifix and a statue of the Virgin Mary at the 18th-century church of Santi Marcellino and Pietro in central Rome.

Major protests also took place at European Union institutions in Brussels, as well as in Athens, where painful budget cuts imposed by international lenders in return for a bailout have sparked widespread anger.

There were smaller mostly peaceful protests also in Geneva, Miami, Montenegro, Paris, Sarajevo, Serbia, Vienna and Zurich.

In Mexico, Peru and Chile, thousands also marched to protest what they said was an unfair financial system and stagnant unemployment.

Hundreds rallied in Hong Kong, the Japanese capital Tokyo and Sydney, Australia.

© 2011 AFP

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