BUCHAREST, ROMANIA, JUNE 15 -- Thousands of miners who had answered President-elect Ion Iliescu's call to crush anti-government protests left Bucharest today after another club-waving rampage against demonstrators.

"We protect you, we protect you," some miners yelled, as they stormed through the city. Estimates of the number of people killed during 38 hours of violence ranged from five to 11. More than 460 were reported injured and about 1,000 were arrested. The violence also led to postponement of today's inauguration ceremony for Iliescu.

U.S. and other Western officials condemned the government-sponsored brutality and threatened to block further economic assistance.

In Washington, the State Department said the attacks "strike at the very heart of Romanian democracy" and threaten to return the country to authoritarianism. U.S. Ambassador Alan Green, who was in Washington for consultations, has been instructed to return to Romania to tell Iliescu that "until the democratic process is restored, the United States will withhold all non-humanitarian economic support," the department said.

Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S. action will not affect $80 million in food aid, announced last February, or $1 million in emergency medical aid, since both represent humanitarian assistance. But, Boucher added, there will be no action for now on economic aid or on Romania's bid to regain Most Favored Nation trade status, which would provide special low tariffs for exports to the United States.

A spokesman for the European Community said Western European nations would hold up a trade and economic cooperation accord finalized this past week. "We will not proceed with {the} ratification procedure in the kind of circumstances that face us in Romania at the moment," EC Commissioner Bruce Millan told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

Iliescu, whose National Salvation Front won elections last month, was due to be inaugurated today at a meeting of both houses of parliament, but the ceremony was postponed.

In Bucharest, some miners ran along Magheru Boulevard near University Square, where the government had broken up a protest Wednesday by demonstrators who had occupied the square for seven weeks to demand the resignation of high-ranking former Communists from the provisional government.

Other miners reentered the university, which they already had ransacked. Some raced through the city in buses, trucks, cars and taxis. Others stood in front of the Intercontinental Hotel, waving clubs at people on balconies.

The miners, estimated to number 10,000, have objected to news photographers taking pictures from the balconies of the hotel, where foreign journalists are staying. One group of miners hit two members of an ABC television crew who were on the pavement filming buses used by the miners. The newsmen said they were not seriously hurt.

The miners, who had arrived Thursday in response to Iliescu's call for help in curbing the protests, were reportedly urged to leave today during a meeting between Iliescu and the miners' leaders.

Iliescu told the miners before they boarded trains back to western Romania, "I thank you once again for what you have demonstrated -- that you are people who can be counted on, especially in difficult moments."

Miners said they would return if further protests occurred. "With this kind of people, we'll do the same thing again and we'll take the same measures," mine foreman Miron Cozma said.

At a news conference at government headquarters, Prime Minister Petre Roman conceded that some miners had engaged in violence against innocent people. "There were unpleasant moments when some people were molested without any reason at all," he said "I must say it in public -- that we are deeply sorry for that."

The government had tried to stop miners from operating on their own, Roman said, "but there were cases in which they took action without us being able to control them."

Opposition leaders Ion Ratiu and Radu Campeanu, defeated by Iliescu in the presidential elections, said vigilantes had entered their homes. Ratiu, the National Peasant Party candidate, said he was briefly seized by 20 miners who ransacked his home. Campeanu, the National Liberal Party leader, said his home was searched in his absence.