Police arrest 60 as Christians protest against sale of arms
Police have already arrested more than 60 people ahead of protests involving many Christians, against the opening of Europe's biggest arms exhibition in London's Docklands.
They are mounting a massive "security" operation at the Defence Systems & Equipment International event being opened today by Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon at the ExCel Centre in the capital's Royal Docks.
The arrests came as anti-arms activists including groups such as Christian Campaign Against the Arms Trade pledged to mount the largest-ever demonstrations in an effort to disrupt the show.
A spokesman for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, of which the Christian group is a part, said it was hoping to get the fair cancelled.
Opponents to the commercial arms exhibition say countries such as Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, which have poor human rights record, can use the weapons to crackdown on internal dissent.
Some military figures in the Indonsian army have been tried for their involvement in human rights abuses in East Timor while the Indonesian government is currently trying to put down a drive for independence in the province of Aceh.
"This arms fair is a bringing together of companies and countries with terrible track records," the Caat spokesman said.
"First and foremost we hope we will get it cancelled, or create a public outcry big enough to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Military top brass and defence ministers from a number of countries including Algeria, Angola, Colombia, Pakistan and India are expected to attend.
The show lasts until Friday and features exhibits from some 950 companies.
Six warships are docked alongside the centre and a Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighter and an Apache attack helicopter are in the exhibition hall.
Several companies plan to show details of systems that can be installed on civil aircraft to confuse surface-to-air missiles.
More than 2,600 security guards and officers are at the site, including 25 Ministry of Defence police officers inside the exhibition centre.