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Merkel Defends Decision To Hold Summit In Hamburg Despite Violent Protests


Protesters march on July 8, the final day of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her decision to hold the Group of 20 (G20) summit in a densely populated urban area, even as she condemned the violent demonstrations against the event in the northern city of Hamburg.

Merkel on July 8 told a news conference that, from a logistical point of view, the massive gathering needed to be held in a large city such as Hamburg, citing its "hotel capacities" and its symbolic trade status as the country’s largest port.

She also promised government compensation for property damage that occurred during the antisummit looting and rioting.

“I condemn in the strongest terms the unchained violence and unrestrained brutality that the police faced repeatedly during the G20,” Merkel told reporters. “Apparently, there are people who have no interest in the issues and instead go on a rampage of blind destruction in their own neighborhood. Tough police measures are the only response to that.”

German authorities said at least 213 police officers had been injured by the final day. The number of protesters hurt over the two days of the summit of leading industrial nations was not immediately known.

Dozens of people were detained over the course of the protests, with at least 23 people charged.

A crowd of 50,000-75,000 people gathered on July 8 in central Hamburg for a final G20 protest - called "Solidarity without borders instead of G20!"

Officials said the demonstration was mostly peaceful with just a few scuffles.

Another demonstration, "Hamburg Shows Attitude," drew 10,000 participants and about 6,000 police. It also ended without violence.

But earlier on the streets of Hamburg, local police had been forced to request urgent backup from across the country to increase their numbers from 19,000 to 21,000 to handle the violence.

During the protests, rioters looted supermarkets and shops, built barricades, set fires, and attacked police vehicles.

The summit officially concluded on July 8 as world leaders left Hamburg to return to their home countries, but reports of violence continued after the event.

Officials said police used water cannon to disperse demonstrators in the city's central Schanzenviertel district into the night of July 8 and morning of July 9 as protesters set barricades on fire.

With reporting by Bloomberg, dpa, AP, and AFP
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