A SILENT column of peace protesters marched to a York market before holding a symbolic "die-in" in solidarity with civilians killed in the Iraqi war.

More than 200 protesters marched from the Museum Gardens to Newgate Market, where scores threw themselves on to the floor to play dead.

Flowers were laid on the "dead bodies".

York Against The War organisers said the silent, two-by-two protest was aimed at reflecting the sombre mood "we feel there should be because of the slaughter in Iraq".

The market was chosen for the "die-in" because Baghdad markets have seen scores of Iraqi civilians killed by bombs in the last seven days, they said.

Spokesman Rory Palmer said: "We will continue to make our point and make it strongly. Another good turn-out today shows how people feel about this war."

But some angry stallholders condemned the protesters, calling on them to hold the demonstration elsewhere.

A music stallholder, who gave his name only as David, turned his music up loud to drown out speeches.

He said: "We are trying to make a living here, I haven't made a penny while this has gone on. They want to demonstrate, fine, but do it somewhere else. They should remember how lucky they are to be able to do it."

But stallholder Rashid Kotia backed the demo, saying: "The war is about colonisation and I am against it. These people wanted to make a point and I respect them for that."

Shopper Dave Freeman said: "I don't disagree with their right to march and make their point. I don't like war, I don't think war is the answer, but we must face up to aggressors like Saddam Hussein and if that means war then there is no other option."

After about 15 minutes the protesters left the market to gather in St Sampson's Square, before about 120 held a vocal march through the city centre and back to the square.

Updated: 11:15 Monday, March 31, 2003