US police fired rubber bullets on Monday morning at anti-war protesters blocking a road near a port in Oakland, a northern California city, wounding several longshoremen, local media reported.
Police trying to clear an entrance to the port fired rubber bullets at about 750 protesters seeking to block access to American President Lines, a shipping company they claimed was profiting from the war in Iraq.
It was not immediately known if protesters were injured. Local media reported that at least six longshoremen, who were standing nearby and caught in the crossfire, were treated by paramedics.
"I was standing as far back as I could," local media quoted longshoremen Kevin Wilson as saying. "It was very scary. All of that force wasn't necessary."
Danielle Ashford, a spokeswoman for Oakland Police, said policeused rubber pellets and bean-bags to disperse the crowd. "We gave them ample time to disperse," she said.
About 150 protesters, carrying signs including "Shut down the war makers," remained after the initial burst of rubber bullets dispersed the crowd and police continued to fire upon them.
Direct Action to Stop the War, a San Francisco-based peace group, said last week that it would stage a series of protests Monday involving new acts of civil disobedience. Organizers said the Port of Oakland was among their targets, because at least one shipping company is handling war supplies.
In a separate demonstration in San Francisco, police arrested about 18 protesters at the Federal building there, reports said.