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(ANSA) – SYDNEY, July 24 – Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters took to the streets today in Australia’s two largest cities, many of whom were arrested in Sydney after violent clashes with police. A group of officers on horseback was accused of throwing jars and bottles during a protest against restrictions in Sydney, while in Melbourne, local media reported that thousands of protesters thronged the streets after gathering in front of the state parliament in the early afternoon.

Maskless protesters violated rules for non-essential travel and public gatherings the day after authorities announced restrictions could remain in place until October.

Sydney police said they had launched a “high visibility police operation” in response to the protest. “So far, during the operation a number of people have been arrested,” the police said.

The organizers had described the protest as a manifestation of “freedom” and announced it on social media pages, often used to spread misinformation about vaccines and conspiracy theories. The participants carried banners and placards bearing various slogans, including “Wake up Australia.”

After surviving most of the first pandemic unharmed, nearly half of Australia’s 25 million people are now in solitary confinement in several cities, and there is growing anger over the restrictions and against the government, accused of not being able to provide adequate supplies of vaccines. Only 11% of the population is fully vaccinated. (handle).

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