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Protesters at White House call for troop withdrawal

WASHINGTON - Thousands of protesters carried signs that read "Indict Bush Now" and flag-draped cardboard coffins yesterday urging the immediate withdrawal of all troops sent into combat overseas.

Protesters rallied at Lafayette Park across from the White House and then began marching through downtown seven years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. At least eight protesters, including activist Cindy "Peace Mom" Sheehan, were arrested after the rally. Stops on the march route include military contractor Halliburton, the Mortgage Bankers Association and The Washington Post offices.

The protest - which calls for the immediate withdrawal of troops sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan - drew a smaller crowd than the tens of thousands who marched in 2006 and 2007. But organizers said many more people have become disenchanted with President Barack Obama, who has pledged to withdraw troops from Iraq, because he ordered more troops into Afghanistan.

Sheehan began shouting "arrest that war criminal" through a bullhorn and pointing to the White House from an area of sidewalk park police had closed off yesterday afternoon.

The exact number of protesters was unclear, as D.C. authorities do not give out crowd estimates.

Sheehan was among the speakers at the rally and asked whether "the honeymoon was over with that war criminal in the White House" - an apparent reference to Obama - prompting moderate applause.

Sheehan has been a vocal critic of the war since her 21-year-old son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004. She staged a prolonged demonstration in 2005 outside former President George W. Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas.

In New York City, there were far fewer protesters at a similar rally. A few dozen enthusiastic protesters gathered near a military recruiting station in Times Square, though they were far outnumbered by uninterested tourists.

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