HAMBURG: Demonstrations turned violent late Thursday ahead of a tricky first G20 summit for US President Donald Trump, as German police clashed with a hard core of masked anti-capitalist activists hurling bottles and stones.
What should have been a peaceful march by around 12,000 people in Hamburg protesting against globalisation was halted as police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse around 1,000 far-left militants.
Seventy-six police officers were injured, a spokesman for Hamburg’s police told AFP.
“Police are still being attacked,” he said.
Officers called with loudspeakers on protesters to remove their masks but this was ignored and after more objects were thrown, authorities decided to separate them from the other protesters, police said on Twitter.
“Unfortunately it has come to the first clashes. We are implementing corresponding measures,” read another tweet.
Protesters were seen scrambling to leave the scene, while others defiantly stood in the way of water cannon trucks as they moved in surrounded by riot police with helmets and batons.
Police tweeted a photo of a car and flames and said shop windows were smashed.
The main “Welcome to Hell” march was then called off but thousands of people remained as night fell and demonstrators engaged in smaller skirmishes in the back streets of Germany’s second city, AFP correspondents said.
Up to 100,000 demonstrators are expected before and during the two-day Group of 20 meeting gathering Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping of China starting on Friday.
There were 20,000 police on standby together with armoured vehicles, helicopters and surveillance drones. A holding centre for detainees has been set up in a former hardware store with space for 400 people.
“War, climate change, exploitation are the result of the capitalist system that the G20 stands for and which 20,000 police are here to defend,” demonstrator Georg Ismail told AFP.