Video: Protesters line up in Torino

By Richard Engel Chief foreign correspondent
NBC News
updated 2/10/2006 7:38:10 PM ET 2006-02-11T00:38:10

For the fifth straight day, the bearers of the Olympic torch had to change course to avoid confrontation.

"It is a victory for us, because it means that we are strong enough to stop the torch," said one demonstrator.

Friday, protesters found another way to express their opposition, burning the U.S. flag.

Demonstrators say they now have a new target — Laura Bush — and plan to disrupt her visit Saturday at the University of Torino.

"They are not really anti-American, they are against the policy of the Bush administration," explains university professor Luigi Bobbio.

The demonstrators are a motley mix of environmentalists and anarchists. Some rioted in Genoa, Italy, during the 2001 G8 summit.

In Torino, the movement has a radio station that coordinates anti-Olympic events. But the real battleground is in the Val di Susa, where many residents oppose a government plan to drill a 35-mile tunnel through the Alps to connect Torino and Lyon, France. The drilling could release deposits of uranium and asbestos, but Italian police tell NBC News that radicals are trying to hijack the protest movement.

"The greater concern is the presence of anti-global leaders who may use the international spotlight on the Olympics as an opportunity to cause destruction," says NBC terrorism expert Roger Cressey.

It's a real threat. Protestors say they plan to be out every day.

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