Sabtu, 4 April 2009


STRASBOURG, France -- French police detained at least 300 demonstrators after violent clashes ahead of a two-day North Atlantic Tready Organization summit to mark the alliance's 65th anniversary.

A total of 107 people were still being held Friday morning, after riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets late Thursday night to force hundreds of demonstrators off the streets of Strasbourg back into a tent camp on the edge of the city. They can be held up to 48 hours before being formally charged.

Demonstrators destroyed telephone booths and attempted to build barricades before they were stopped, said a police spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity according to French practice.

Strasbourg was calm Friday morning, but the streets were virtually deserted as unauthorized traffic is forbidden in many parts of the city. Schools and the university were closed. Most businesses and restaurants shut for the duration of the summit.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have descended on Strasbourg and two southwestern German towns to protest the cross-border NATO summit.

Twenty-eight world leaders will attend the two-day summit, including U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In a bid to prevent violence, France has temporarily reinstated border controls with its immediate neighbors for the meeting.

German authorities estimate that up to 25,000 protesters will take part in several demonstrations in the German cities of Baden-Baden and Kehl, while France's interior minister has suggested 30,000 to 40,000 ultimately could show up in Strasbourg, where a camp has been set up to house demonstrators.

German and French police have said they are expecting 2,000 to 3,000 members of the violence-prone "black block" so-called for the black clothes and hoods they wear.

Some 15,000 German police -- including 31 riot squads -- and 9,000 French police will be on hand for the summit.

Protest organizers have called for peaceful demonstrations to highlight their complaints, including antiwar, antiglobalization, anticapitalist and disarmament platforms. The main demonstration begins Friday at noon in Kehl. The activists plan to march across the Rhine river into Strasbourg. Another protest is planned for Saturday.

Copyright © 2009 Associated Press

(Source: The Wall Street JOurnal)

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