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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Violent protests continue in Hamburg after end of G20 summit 

Nearly 500 police officers injured in clashes since Thursday

People take pictures of a supermarket that was vandalised during protests against the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 8, 2017. Lukas Barth / EPA
People take pictures of a supermarket that was vandalised during protests against the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 8, 2017. Lukas Barth / EPA

Hamburg // Nearly 500 police officers were injured in clashes with protesters during the G20 summit, officials said on Sunday, after fresh riots broke out overnight.

Violence continued to rage after G20 leaders returned home Saturday, with far-left protesters setting fire to a number of vehicles into the early morning hours.

Protesters gathered after the close of the summit in the Schanzen district, a stronghold for extreme-left radicals which has been the site of numerous confrontations since Thursday.

Armed with glass bottles and targeting vehicles, many of which they set on fire, the protesters were pushed back by officers, using water cannon and tear gas, police said.

The head of operations for Hamburg police, Hartmut Dudde, said 476 officers had been injured since Thursday in a deployment of more than 20,000 officers, and 186 people were detained. No accurate number for protesters injured was available.

Mr Dudde admitted that despite 18 months of preparation, security forces had been surprised by the extent of the violence.

Earlier, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier surveyed the damage caused by protesters and visited wounded officers in hospital with Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz, saying he was "shocked and dismayed" by the "will to destroy shown by demonstrators against police and private citizens' property".

"We must ask ourselves as democrats whether a few violent protesters can keep countries such as Germany from holding such international meetings," Mr Steinmeier told reporters.

Mr Scholz thanked the "heroic" police for their service and the citizens of Hamburg who brought flowers to a military hospital where many officers were being treated, pledging compensation for those who suffered losses from vandalism.

He dismissed criticism by some peaceful demonstrators that the police had been excessive in their crackdown and called for "lengthy jail sentences" for participants in the riots.

The explosion of violence at the meeting sparked pointed questions over how Hamburg could descend into "mob rule" and why German chancellor Angela Merkel chose a hotbed of leftist militancy as the venue.

Hamburg, a vibrant port city where Mrs Merkel was born, is a citadel of anti-capitalist radicals and authorities had long been bracing for possible violence on the sidelines of the summit.

On Thursday, a planned peaceful march by around 12,000 people protesting against globalisation turned violent as a hard core of so-called black bloc masked anarchists attacked police and rampaged through city streets.

The German police officers' union GdP on Friday hit out at the black bloc, accusing them of "hijacking peaceful demonstrations by tens of thousands of people to deliberately attack" police.

The clashes occurred as leaders from the world's 20 biggest developed and emerging economies held a two-day meeting focusing on trade, terrorism, climate change and other key global issues.

World leaders made concessions on trade and climate language to US president Donald Trump Saturday at the end of the most fractious and riot-hit G20 summit ever, in exchange for preserving a fragile unity of the group.

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