Water cannon fired on Philippine 'Occupy' marchers

Philippine riot police fired water cannon to break up a protest Tuesday by around 500 college students inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States, organisers said.

The protesters had intended to march and camp out near Manila's historic Mendiola Bridge leading to the presidential palace, but were blocked by riot police because they did not have a permit, the organisers said.

"We were assembling for the big march when they blocked us and then tried to break us up by firing water cannons," Vanessa Bolibol, a spokeswoman for the group, told AFP.

An AFP photographer at the scene said about 200 riot police with shields and truncheons had blocked the protesters' path, while at least two fire trucks were on stand by to prevent them from advancing.

The photographer saw the riot police firing the water cannon for a couple of minutes.

Colouful protests are common in the Philippines, but mass gatherings near the presidential palace are banned for security purposes unless a special permit is granted.

Composed mostly of youth groups from various universities around the capital, the protesters dubbed their march the "Camp Out" movement.

Organisers said the march was inspired by the "Occupy Wall Street" movement in the United States, and intended to gather thousands of young people and set up tents and temporary shelters near the palace.

Bolibol said the protesters hoped to continue with occupying the area near the bridge, where they had prepared a range of activities including a rock concert.

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