Mongolian herders sweep into capital in protest

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia — Several hundred Mongolian herders joined by environmental activists are setting up camp in the capital to protest international mining deals and demand elections.

The herders on horseback and horse-drawn carts swept into the central square in Ulan Bator on Tuesday and erected their traditional round tents for what activists said would be a lengthy protest.

The protesters are criticizing mining deals with international companies that they say are despoiling grazing lands. They also accuse political parties of sacrificing the national interest to please the mining firms.

Herders have become increasingly hard-pressed in largely poor, landlocked Mongolia as overgrazing, rough winters and industrialization degrade grasslands.

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