PICTURES

Female protesters scale London's Shard skyscraper

Greenpeace demonstrators start their ascent of the Shard skyscraper, in central London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a
Greenpeace demonstrators start their ascent of the Shard skyscraper, in central London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over Arctic oil drilling, the environmental group and police said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Greenpeace demonstrators climb the Shard skyscraper, in central London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over Arc
Greenpeace demonstrators climb the Shard skyscraper, in central London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over Arctic oil drilling, the environmental group and police said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Greenpeace demonstrators climb the Shard skyscraper, in central London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over Arc
Greenpeace demonstrators climb the Shard skyscraper, in central London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over Arctic oil drilling, the environmental group and police said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A Greenpeace demonstrator climbs the Shard skyscraper, in central London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over A
A Greenpeace demonstrator climbs the Shard skyscraper, in central London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over Arctic oil drilling, the environmental group and police said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Greenpeace demonstrators climb the Shard skyscraper, in central London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over Arc
Greenpeace demonstrators climb the Shard skyscraper, in central London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over Arctic oil drilling, the environmental group and police said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A Greenpeace demonstrator gestures during her ascent of the Shard skyscraper in London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a
A Greenpeace demonstrator gestures during her ascent of the Shard skyscraper in London on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over Arctic oil drilling, the environmental group and police said. -- PHOTO: AFP/GREENPEACE/DAVID SANDISON

LONDON (AFP) - Six female Greenpeace activists attempted on Thursday to scale the Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe's tallest building, in a protest over Arctic oil drilling, the environmental group and police said.

The protesters evaded security guards just before dawn to begin the unauthorised bid to climb the 72-storey glass-fronted building, which towers 301m over the British capital.

Greenpeace said the six "artists and activists" had targeted the Shard to highlight the work of Shell and other oil companies and intended to hang an artwork from the top if they managed to reach it.

"They chose to climb the Shard because it towers over Shell's three London offices," it said in a statement.

"Shell is leading the oil companies' drive into the Arctic, investing billions in its Alaskan and Russian drilling programmes."

Greenpeace said they were "free climbing" without assistance but would attach safety ropes as they progressed, while a live video feed of the climb was being broadcast online.

The group named the climbers as "Sabine, Sandra, Victo, Ali, Wiola and Liesbeth" and posted a photo of them before the climb.

It quoted climber Victoria Henry, a Canadian woman living in London as saying before the climb: "It's going to be really hard work, it's going to be nerve-shredding for all of us and we may not succeed, but we're going to do everything we can to pull it off." A spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police said, "We were called at twenty past four this morning. We have six protesters attempting to scale the outside of the Shard.

"We have officers down there, monitoring the situation. The event is still ongoing." A Shard spokesman said they were working to ensure the safety of the climbers as well as that of workers and visitors to the centre.

The Shard opened to the public in February and contains office space, a five-star hotel, restaurants and luxury apartments.

It was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and financed by the Qatari government.