May Day violence erupts in Berlin, 250 police hurt


At least 250 German riot police and an unknown number of civilians were injured in May Day holiday street battles with anarchists, police said today.

Despite flying bottles, stones and signal rockets set off by leftists, Berlin state interior minister Mr Ehrhart Koerting said the 10,000-strong police force had contained the violence, with fewer street fires and damaged store windows than in past years.

Witnesses and television footage showed police coming under heavy attack on streets strewn with broken bottles in fighting that has plagued Berlin for the last 16 years. Police fought the masked anarchists with water cannon and tear gas.

Police said only 16 fires broke out on the streets this year, down from 25 last year, and only one car was burned, compared to 18 cars set ablaze in 2003.

Injuries to police were mostly slight, although up slightly in number on 2003, authorities said. Police made 348 arrests. Cars were overturned and several businesses had their storefront windows smashed.