Tibet Protesters Disrupt Torch Relay

PARIS -- Chinese officials called off a chaotic relay of the Olympic torch through Paris on Monday after thousands of pro-Tibet protesters tried to block its path and the flame had to be extinguished at least twice.

Police said the Chinese authorities organizing the five-hour passage of the torch had decided to give up the road relay after demonstrators protesting against China's crackdown on Tibet constantly snarled its progress and forced lengthy delays.

The torch relay hit trouble almost as soon as it had set off from the Eiffel Tower, and regularly ground to a halt when protesters threatened to break through the security cordon around the athletes carrying the flame.

"Boycott Chinese Goods" and "Save Tibet" read some of the banners held aloft by demonstrators. Other people came to support Beijing and waved Chinese flags above the crowds.

More than four hours after setting out on its 28-kilometer trip, officials finally decided to put the flame on a bus and sped down to the final leg of the relay -- a stadium in south Paris which houses the French Olympic Committee.

"We are doing our best but it will take the world to put pressure on China to help bring democracy and human rights to Tibet," said Phurbu Dolker, a 21-year-old Tibetan refugee.

The scenes were reminiscent of the protests that hit the torch's passage through London on Sunday.

Paris Mayor Bernard Delanoe said the Chinese canceled a reception for the torch at City Hall at the last minute, after a banner supporting human rights was hung from the building's facade.