BANGKOK (Reuters) – About two hundred China supporters taunted pro-Tibet demonstrators as the Olympic torch was paraded through Bangkok amid tight security on Saturday.

Police pushed back several people who tried to advance beyond barricades to counter demonstrations by scores of activists angry at China’s human rights record and rule over Tibet.

A crowd dressed in red waving China flags gathered outside the regional headquarters of the United Nations, chanting pro-China slogans as the demonstrators held aloft banners saying “no torch in Tibet” and “one world, one dream, free Tibet”.

“They are killing many Tibetans, like animals,” said one protester, who had “free Tibet” scrawled on his bare chest.

A police helicopter hovered overhead as the torch and runners began their 10.5-km (6.5-mile) relay in the city’s China Town, watched by Olympic marshals and tightly escorted by police patrols and motorcycles.

The parade got underway without incident with crowds cheering as the symbolic flame made the short journey towards the golden-spired Grand Palace.

“We, Thailand, confirm our pure intention to separate politics from sport and give our support to China for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing,” deputy prime minister Sanan Kajornprasart, told the crowd.

State television in China made no mention of the protests in its report on the relay in the Thai capital, saying that it received a rapturous welcome.

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