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Salzburg protesters run out of town

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SALZBURG, Austria — Austrian riot police put hundreds of anti-globalization demonstrators on a special train back to Vienna on Sunday after violent protests at a European economic summit in Salzburg.

Several arrests were made as police held several hundred protesters on a side street in central Salzburg after sporadic violence. Police said at least five people had been arrested.

At one point, police with dogs waded into the crowd, striking demonstrators with batons, Reuters correspondent David Chance reported.

"Police charged and made a big push, and the response from the demonstrators was to use flagpoles to start beating on police shields," he said.

The two sides then negotiated a peaceful end to the action, with groups of protesters being released through a police cordon.

Before they were set free, some demonstrators — some of them wearing black hoods and cloth masks — were searched for weapons and had to reveal their identities.

"A special train will go to Vienna accompanied by police," interior police spokesman Robert Sturm said.

Four policeman were reportedly injured during the violence. Two demonstrators were seen being treated for minor cuts.

The start of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) sixth annual European Economic summit, attended by some 15 heads of state and government as well as ministers and hundreds of business executives, was not disrupted by the clashes.

Demonstrators had been kept well away from the conference centre, where the summit was due to continue until Tuesday.

The main issues were likely to be enlargement of the European Union and the mounting crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where ethnic Albanian rebels are battling government forces.

The future of Yugoslavia and Russia were also on the agenda.

Salzburg police chief Karl Schweiger said earlier that police had been trying to persuade the demonstrators, who were kept well away from the conference centre, to disperse.

"I am informed that four people have been arrested," he said. Reporters later saw other demonstrators being carried away.

Security was the tightest ever seen in Austria's fourth largest city, best known as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and for the 1960s film "The Sound of Music," filmed in the city and in Salzburg's spectacular Alpine surroundings.

Anti-capitalist protesters have disrupted numerous international gatherings in recent years and Salzburg police were determined to prevent a recurrence of the serious violence seen at an EU summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, last month.

Most of the left-wing demonstrators, who carried placards with slogans such as "Smash the power of the banks and corporations," had dispersed after a rally, which began in the square near Salzburg railway station.

Austria last week temporarily reimposed border controls on its frontiers with Germany and Italy, suspending the Schengen accord under which most EU countries allow travel without passport checks.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said he was deeply saddened by the fact that such tight security measures were necessary in Salzburg.

"I wouldn't have anything against speaking to people who hold views different from mine right here in front of the congress centre," Verheugen told reporters.

"But you can't do that when there's the danger violence will be used, which is both terrible and deplorable."