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Sunday, April 5, 2009

France backs police response to NATO protests

Sun, 05 Apr 2009 14:05:07 GMT | PressTV

Riot police gather for a picture during an anti-NATO protest in Strasbourg on April 4, 2009 during a NATO summit on the alliance's 60th anniv.

The French president and the interior ministry have defended police response to violent anti-NATO protests in Strasbourg that may be subjected to an inquiry.

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said Sunday that 300 arrests had been made during the NATO summit in Strasbourg to mark the military alliance's 60th anniversary, but declined to revise the number of injured previously put at around 10.

The border city was the scene of fierce anti-NATO protests on Saturday as up 30,000 demonstrators took to the streets. The rallies quickly turned into a riot, with radicals torching a five-storey hotel, a pharmacy and a tourist information office.

The mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, has called for an inquiry into the police handling of the riots to investigate why the big security presence failed to prevent the violence.

"There were plenty of accusations that Strasbourg had been turned into a fortified camp, but they were not able to prevent this," he told reporters.

"The security forces did their job perfectly…Their mission was to ensure that the summit passed off well and despite all the various attempts to prevent it, the summit passed off well," Alliot-Marie challenged the accusations during an interview with RTL radio.

President Nicolas Sarkozy also praised the security forces later on Sunday for their operations in Strasbourg.

"There were no victims, there were no injuries. Naturally there was material damage which will be compensated by insurance companies," he told France's TF1 television.

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