Thousands protest in London over Gaza flotilla killings

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Several thousand people gathered outside Downing Street in London Saturday for an angry protest against the killing of nine activists by Israeli forces in this week's botched aid fleet raid.

Waving flags and placards and chanting loudly, protestors urged the British government to step up pressure on Israel following the deadly commando raid on the Gaza-bound ships.

They were headed to the Israeli embassy in a march that will wind through central London.

Lindsey German of organisers Stop The War Coalition told the crowd the event was to show victims "that their death has not been in vain -- what it has done is bring to the world's attention the terrible crime of the blockade of Gaza".

Demonstrators outside the prime minister's residence waved Palestinian flags and waved placards saying: "Gaza End The Siege" and "For Freedom We Sail", while others chanted: "Stop Israeli piracy".

Many of those attending were from London's large Turkish community such as 38-year-old Ali Seylan who said his brother had been on board the flotilla.

"Thank God nothing happened to my brother -- if anything happened to him I was going to get my revenge myself," he told AFP. "Israel made a big mistake, Israel's government managed to get all Turkish people the enemy of Israel".

He said many London-based Turkish people were joining the march, adding: "Religionists are here, socialists are here, even Turkish drunks are here".

Sami Mehmet, 65, who lives near London but is originally from Cyprus, described Israel's behaviour as "piracy".

"I want (British Prime Minister David) Cameron and his colleagues and the rest of the EU to take notice and bring Israel to book because they have been doing it for far too long," he said.

Asked what the mood was like of people on the march, he added: "They're very angry, rightly so. I'm angry but I don't shout because I'm not well. I wish I could shout".

On Saturday, Israeli forces peacefully boarded another ship, the Rachel Corrie, as it headed for Gaza in defiance of Israel's blockade.

© 2010 AFP

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