- uploaded: Jan 26, 2012
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BREAKING Prime Minister Gillard Attacked in Australia
Riot police were called in to help Julia Gillard escape from a Canberra restaurant after it was surrounded by around 200 furious protesters.
The mob trapped the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in the restaurant near Old Parliament House where Gillard had been handing out medals to emergency services representatives.
The protesters had been taking part in an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the nearby Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
They surrounded The Lobby restaurant and banged on the three glass sides, chanting "shame" and "racist".
At least 50 police, including the riot squad, were called to the scene shortly after 2.30pm (AEDT).
The two leaders, protected by police and security officers, escaped out a side door after about 20 minutes.
Protesters chased their car down the road, banging on its roof and bonnet.
The embassy is celebrating a 40-year milestone with a three-day "Corroboree for Sovereignty" with thousands of indigenous Australians travelling to Canberra for the occasion.
Tensions boiled over on Thursday afternoon following comments Mr Abbott made in Sydney earlier in the day.
Mr Abbott said he understood why the tent embassy was set up "all those years ago".
"I think a lot has changed for the better since then," he told reporters.
"I think the indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian.
"I think a lot has changed since then, and I think it probably is time to move on from that."
For many Aboriginal people Australia Day is considered Invasion Day.
Earlier on Wednesday afternoon embassy founder Michael Anderson addressed a rally at the site.
"To hell with the government and the courts in this country. You haven't got a high hope to take us on," he said.
"We will force these issues.
"Too many of our families have suffered for some bastard to get in the road."
There were false reports Ms Gillard had been tackled by protesters as she was escorted to her commonwealth car.
A spokesman for the prime minister said Ms Gillard slipped as she was leaving the building.
Activists from the tent embassy accused Mr Abbott of inciting racial riots with his earlier comments.
Michael Anderson said the comments were disrespectful.
"He said the aboriginal embassy had to go, we heard it on a radio broadcast," he told AAP.
"We thought no way, so we circled around the building."
He said the protesters wanted the leaders to clarify their position and whether Mr Abbott was serious about removing the embassy.
"You've got 1000 people here peacefully protesting and to make a statement about tearing down the embassy - it's just madness on the part of Tony Abbott," Mr Anderson said.
"What he said amounts to inciting racial riots."
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