Czech village 'vetoes' US shield

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The residents of a village in the Czech Republic have voted overwhelmingly to reject a radar station that would form part of the US missile defence shield.

Only one of the residents voted yes, while 71 of the 90 eligible voters were opposed, said the mayor of Trokavec, 70km (44 miles) from Prague.

Villagers fear the area will become a military target. The vote was largely symbolic and has no legal power.

The US plans the shield to prevent long-range missile attacks.

The programme has bases in the US, Britain and Greenland, and Washington wants more in Poland and the Czech Republic to complete the coverage.

The Czech government is in favour of the plan but needs the approval of parliament, where it has no majority.

Peace sign

Trokavec, which is less than 2km (1.25 miles) from the planned radar base, also fears the area may be affected by radiation.

Several hundred peace activists marched through Prague city centre

Mayor Jan Neoral told AFP news agency: "This is our message to the government and the government should take notice of the fact that our village wishes [the radar site] not to happen."

He said more villages would hold symbolic referendums.

The BBC's Rob Cameron in Prague says the capital held a rally of several hundred peace activists.

They marched through the city centre and campaigners carrying burning torches formed a peace sign in the old town square, he said.

Jan Tamas, spokesman of the No To Bases group, told him: "If we want to have security, then we need to begin disarming not creating new weapons."

However, a spokesman for a group backing the shield, Vaclav Marhoul, rejected claims that the plan would make the Czech Republic a military target.

"We believe that the EU or European civilisation couldn't save ourselves without the United States," he said.