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Battle of Strasbourg

  • April 5th, 2009
  • Posted by EUEditor

strasborug-demo-resize.jpgSections of Strasbourg, host city of the weekend conference of NATO, have been laid waste in clashes between police and left-wing protestors.

STREET FIGHTING AND ARSON

Thousands of opponents of the Western military alliance, and its actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere, crowded around the margins of the summit – and staged a Saturday-night blitz as the high-level political leaders moved out of town.

Burning of garbage bins extended to fire bombing of a vacated police post, a service station and a hotel building, according to Le Monde.

strasbourg-fire-le-monde.jpgA medical service set up by the protestors said there had been a number of injuries mostly from tear gas.

Tree hundred were picked up by the police, and 105 arrested on charges of affray, mainly for violence with arms.

Several of the protestors were waving batons as they battled with lines of riot police, under a pall of smoke.

PLACID CITY

Strasbourg, capital of Alsace, has been much fought over before and has historically changed hands between Germany and France, though today it is firmly French, and regarded as a symbol of good will in Europe.

strasbourg-eparlt.jpgIt is host to the European Parliament (picture), and the inter-governmental human rights body, the Council of Europe.

strasbourg-cathedral.jpgIt has close to 750 000 inhabitants, an imposing cathedral (picture) and beautiful old town areas near the Rhine river.

It is normally a magnet for tourists interested in the coexistence in the region of German and French cultures and cuisine.

NEW FIGHTING FOR NATO

The next round of fighting for the North Atlantic alliance will be far from the cobbled streets and cafes of Strasbourg –  in fact in Afghanistan, where an additional 5000 troops are now set to go.

European governments at the N ATO summit committed the additional numbers, (of which 3000 would be there before the Afghan elections this year) –  against 17000 extra being sent from the United States.

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, said increasing the commitment in Afghanistan, where NATO provides the allied command structure, was in the end, “a question of the world’s freedom.”

“We do not have the right to lose”, he said.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the campaign against Taliban insurgents affected security far afield, and NATO “could not let terrorists get a footing there”.

Reference:

Le Monde, Paris, “Strasbourg: heurts violents entre manifestants et forces de l’ordre”, (Strasbourg: violent clashes between demonstrators and the police);

“L’OTAN enverra 5000 hommes supplementaries en Afghanistan”, (NATO will send 5000 extra men to Afghanistan), 4.4.09. www.lemonde.fr, (5.4.09).

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