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Thousands march against Afghan war

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of central London to march against the war in Afghanistan as Nato leaders met to plan an end to the nine-year conflict.

Demonstrators were led by military families as they carried anti-war placards and banners against cuts to government spending.

As the march, involving an estimated 10,000 people, moved from Hyde Park, central London, protesters chanted: "When they say warfare, we say welfare".

The demonstration took place as the Prime Minister attended a Nato summit in Lisbon, where an agreement was reached which will see Afghan forces take over full responsibility for the country's security in 2014.

David Cameron said the Coalition Government had set a "firm deadline" of withdrawing British troops from a combat role by 2015.

In Trafalgar Square, the father of a soldier killed in action gave an emotional address to the crowd. Stephen Barnes, whose son Corporal Jason Barnes died in 2008, said he had "mixed feelings" about the Government's continued commitment to the Afghan campaign.

He said: "I don't want Jason's death to be in vain but I don't want any other family to feel and go through what I went through."

Other speakers were adamant that a withdrawal of combat troops by 2015 was too late. Joe Glenton, a former soldier who was jailed for six months for refusing to serve in Afghanistan, said the war was a "sham".

Mr Glenton, who has returned his veteran's medal to Downing Street, said: "This isn't about defence of our country or our liberty. What are these men going to return to? A country that has been mutilated financially and politically."

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, said the protesters were "the conscience of this nation". He accused Nato leaders in Lisbon of propping up "the most corrupt government across the planet" and expressed solidarity with the protesters who rioted at Millbank last week.

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