The “Welcome to Hell” demonstration against the G20 summit in Hamburg has led to a violent confrontation between police and protesters on the streets of the German city.
The march started off relatively peacefully as activists marched through the streets, chanting slogans and holding banners. It’s not clear who or what exactly triggered the fighting, but several loud bangs were heard, followed by bottles being thrown in the direction of riot police which had assembled nearby.
Water cannons were deployed by authorities and several people appear to be injured as a number of people have been seen on the ground or with bloody faces being led away by police.
At the start of the skirmish organizers appealed for calm, as a voice over the loudspeaker asked protesters to refrain from throwing bottles.
Footage from the scene at some point showed columns of green and orange smoke rising above the crowds.
The Welcome to Hell march is taking place one day before the G20 summit kicks off in Hamburg.
Police have estimated around 10,000 people will attend the march. Earlier, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said there was a hard-core of 8,000 leftist militants who were ready to use violence.
Over 15,000 more officers deployed to Hamburg from across the country to deal with any unrest, as well as specialist vehicles such as armoured cars, water cannons and helicopters.
Protests have been banned from Hamburg’s inner city and on roads leading to the airport. Activists have accused Hamburg authorities of suppressing their right to legitimate protest, but the city says it can take no chances with the safety of the thousands of foreign delegates who will attend the G20, including world leaders such as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Justin Trudeau.
Fearful of rioting, local people are avoiding the city center. Businesses have boarded up their windows and some have stuck anti-G20 posters to their doors, to avoid being the target of anti-capitalist rioters.