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UK police dismantling Irish Travelers camp
British police dismantling part of Irish Travelers camp site following clashes with occupants
By The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) ' Irish Travelers on Thursday left a site where they have lived illegally for a decade, ending days of fierce resistance and a lengthy legal battle against authorities who forced their eviction.

Authorities earlier Thursday began removing homes and dismantling protesters' scaffolding from Dale Farm to force out the Travelers, a traditionally nomadic group similar to, but ethnically distinct from, Gypsy or Roma people.

Most residents said they plan to relocate to a neighboring legal site.

Evictions of Travelers are relatively common across Britain, but few are as large, or as high-profile, as this one. The conflict over the site on fields about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of London has simmered since 2001, when Travelers bought and settled on a former scrap yard next to a legal Travelers' site.

The legal battle dragged on for years until the Travelers lost a final appeal last week.

Local authorities say the 86 families lack permission to pitch homes on the land, but the Travelers call it ethnic cleansing.

On Wednesday, several dozen protesters threw bricks at police and struggled with officers at the site.

Police said 34 people have been arrested since the operation got under way.

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