Monday, December 18, 2006

Street clashes flare in Copenhagen, 300 arrested

COPENHAGEN More than 300 demonstrators were arrested in the Danish capital on Saturday after violent clashes between police and youths who were protesting against the planned closure of a youth center in the city. Several hundred demonstrators threw cobblestones, bottles and fireworks at police and erected blazing barricades made from Christmas trees, trash cans and bicycles, police said. "It was extremely violent. It looked like a war zone and it's been many years since we last had to use tear gas on the streets," police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch told reporters. Police responded with tear gas attacks and split the main crowd of demonstrators into several smaller ones using armored cars. Groups of demonstrators walked toward the city center smashing shop windows, leaving a trail of destruction. The conflict over the youth center has been brewing since 2000 when local government sold the building that houses the center. Left-wing activist have been using the center as a base since 1982. The current owners have a court order to have the squatters evicted but the youths have sworn to protect the house and have repeatedly called for a political solution. Danish media reported that at least four police officers and several demonstrators were injured in the clashes.

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