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HUNDREDS IN VENEZUELAN TOWN PROTEST TAKEOVER OF POLICE

Hundreds of people banging pots and pans faced off against national guardsmen at a police station Sunday to protest President Hugo Chavez's order to take over the Caracas police.

The protesters, who gathered outside several other precincts as well, shouted, "Get Out! Get Out!" and "Coup Plotters!" as they waved Venezuelan flags.

About 100 soldiers equipped with shields and tear gas formed a chain to keep protesters from entering the station, home of an elite motorcycle unit in the hills overlooking Caracas.

Police refused to accept the takeover, and control of the force remained in question.

On Saturday, the government took command of the 9,000-strong police force to end a 1 1/2 -month labor dispute between officers loyal to Chavez and others who support the outspoken mayor of Caracas, Alfredo Pena.

Chavez deployed soldiers in armored troop carriers to Caracas' 10 police stations in what critics said was a move to weaken Pena.

The crisis raised concerns that police would not be able to guarantee security during the country's frequent political demonstrations.

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