Soldiers authorized to shoot Olympic protesters

Climbers April 21, 2008

The Associated Press


Nepalese soldiers and police guarding the slopes of Mount Everest are authorized to shoot to stop any protests during China's Olympic torch run to the summit.

Chinese climbers plan to take the torch to the summit of Everest -- the world's highest peak on the border between Nepal and Tibet -- in the first few days of May. During that time, other climbers will be banned from higher elevations.

A Nepalese government spokesperson says police and soldiers "have been given orders to stop any protest on the mountain using whatever means necessary,'' adding deadly force is authorized only as a last resort.

The troops will first try to persuade protesters to leave and will arrest those who don't.

Twenty-five soldiers and police officers have already established several camps on the mountain, with the possibility more troops could be sent if needed.

The torch relay -- the longest in Olympic history -- has been seized on as a platform to protest China's human rights record, most notably the crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet in March.

Meanwhile, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said soccer's world governing body would never consider a boycott of the Beijing Olympics and criticized protests of the Olympic torch relay.

Blatter was in Beijing yesterday for the men's and women's draw for the Olympic soccer tournament.

SOLUS: Hoedl's Haven