Police arrested 214 of about 1,000 demonstrators who tried unsuccessfully to blockade the Pentagon during a protest of U.S. policy on El Salvador.

Authorities said most of the arrests Monday were on charges of obstructing passage.There were scattered episodes of fisticuffs between police and demonstrators, and three people were charged with assault, but the protesters failed to achieve their goal of stopping Pentagon workers from entering the building.

The demonstration was sponsored by a coalition of a half-dozen peace groups.

The protesters succeeded in forcing Defense Department workers to abandon the huge parking lot south of the Pentagon - which normally accommodates 3,700 cars - and to run a human gauntlet through selected entrances to get to their offices.

"But they didn't shut down the building; they just created a lot of inconvenience and long walks," said Glenn Flood, a Pentagon spokesman.

Police, including one officer who was attacked by protesters, arrested several people when they sat in a road to block a military bus from entering the parking lot.

One demonstrator sprayed red paint across the front of a bus. Protesters then pushed one Defense Protective Service officer to the ground when he tried to arrest the demonstrator and beat the officer before other officers rescued him.

The demonstrators oppose U.S. aid to the Salvadoran government, which has been engaged in a war against leftist guerrillas since 1980. An estimated 60,000 people have died in that conflict, which has produced continuing allegations of "death squad" killings by policemen and soldiers.

The United States considers El Salvador one of its closest allies in Central America.

The protesters maintain the leftist guerrillas are willing to negotiate an end to the fighting but that the Salvadoran government - backed by the United States - refuses to compromise in any way.