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Gillard aide quits over diary leak

A clash between protesters and Australian police that forced bodyguards to rush prime minister Julia Gillard out of an event appears to have been set off by information released by one of Ms Gillard's own aides.

The aide has been fired. Ms Gillard's office said that a member of her media unit told someone that opposition leader Tony Abbott would be at Thursday's event in Canberra, the capital.

A spokesperson said in a statement that the information was passed on to indigenous-rights protesters who were demonstrating nearby.

The protesters were angry about recent comments Mr Abbott made about their movement, and about 200 of them surrounded the restaurant where he and Ms Gillard were. Ms Gillard stumbled as she was rushed out and lost a shoe, which the protesters picked up.

Ms Gillard's office said that although the staff member had not suggested or encouraged violence or demonstration, the release of the information was "an error of judgment".

Mr Abbott told Sky News that Ms Gillard must reveal exactly what the fired staffer said, and to whom.

He called it a "serious security breach" and an apparent attempt to "trigger something potentially dire for political advantage". "Trouble was triggered and it seems that someone from the prime minister's office had a very big hand in all of that," he said.

Michael Outram, national manager of protection for the Australian Federal Police, said police may file charges against some of the protesters.

Protest leaders denied doing anything wrong, accused the police of manhandling protesters and said they planned to lodge a complaint against the officers involved.

About 200 indigenous-rights supporters marched on the nation's Parliament House yesterday, burning an Australian flag in front of a wall of police. No one was hurt and the protesters left minutes later.

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