German officer fires 'warning shot' at G-20 protests

Protesters at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, July 7, 2017.
Protesters at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, July 7, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

HAMBURG (AFP) - A German officer fired a warning shot in Hamburg on Friday evening (July 7) as anti-G20 protests raged in the German city for a second straight evening, police said.

“A police officer was attacked by several violent people.. and he fired a warning shot,” police said on Twitter. The officer then fled into a shop and was rescued.

In a subsequent tweet, police clarified that the incident was not linked to the demonstrations against the G-20 summit, but was connected to a street robbery.

“The warning shot was discharged when police observed a street robbery, intervened and were attacked by the assailants,” it said.

On Thursday evening, a planned peaceful march had to be called off after police held running battles into the small hours with a hardcore of around 1,000 anti-capitalist militants.

During Friday demonstrators played cat-and-mouse with police as they went torched cars, fired flares at helicopters, blocked roads and even slashed the tyres of the Canadian delegation.

As Hamburg requested police reinforcements from elsewhere in Germany, US First Lady Melania Trump was unable to go on a tour of Hamburg harbour with fellow leaders’ spouses after demonstrators trapped her in her residence.

As night fell on Friday, matters escalated once more in the Sternschanze neighbourhood with protesters smashing windows, throwing stones at police and making fires, AFP reporters said.

Anarchist militants in black with balaclavas broke up paving stones to use as projectiles and ripped out street signs as hundreds of rocks littered the roads.

Firecrackers were thrown and garbage bins burning filled the air with acrid smoke as hundreds of riot police massed on access roads and fired water cannon at demonstrators.

The activists failed however to prevent G-20 leaders making to the brand-new Elbphilharmonie concert hall for a performance of Beethoven’s ninth symphony. They then went on to a gala dinner.

G-20 host Merkel condemned the violence, saying she could understand peaceful protests, but demonstrations that “put peoples’ lives in danger, put the protesters’ own lives in danger... are unacceptable”.

The summit, riven by divisions between US President Donald Trump and his counterparts over climate change and protectionism, was due to close on Saturday.