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Religious protesters spill blood at U.S. Consulate
(AP, March 24, 2003)

In a protest against the war in Iraq, a Roman Catholic priest and another religious activist said they used their own blood to make a cross on the carpet of the U.S. Consul's office in Auckland on Monday.

Father Peter Murnane and Nicholas Drake, a Catholic activist, had an appointment with U.S. Consul Douglas Berry purportedly to read him an anti-war statement.

But when the men entered Berry's office, they took out a container of their own blood and poured it onto the floor, making a 1-meter long (3 foot) cross, the two said. The blood's origin couldn't be confirmed and it wasn't known how much blood the container held.

The U.S. administration was "spilling great quantities of blood on the soil of Iraq," Murnane and Drake said in a statement afterward. "We now make the sign of the cross with our blood on the floor, in this outpost of the United States."

Auckland is 660 kilometers (410 miles) northeast of the capital city of Wellington, where the U.S. Embassy put out a statement confirming their action.

Murnane said Berry asked them to stop but made no attempt to prevent the act.

"He simply showed us to the door," Murnane later told reporters.

It wasn't clear if any action would be taken against Murnane and Drake.

The U.S. Embassy said the men's conduct did nothing to contribute to constructive dialogue.

"While we support people's right to express differing opinions, we believe that those opinions should be expressed in an appropriate and legal manner," the embassy said in a statement.

Murnane, an Australian, said he was "deeply ashamed" of his country's military involvement in the war. Australia has sent 2,000 military personnel to fight alongside British and U.S. troops.


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