FRANCE’S interior minister yesterday defended the police handling of violent anti-Nato protests in Strasbourg in which shops were ransacked and buildings, including a seven-storey hotel, were set ablaze.
A huge police presence ensured that Saturday’s meeting of leaders of the Nato military alliance, including US President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, passed off uninterrupted.
But residents of a working class district close to the Rhine River said they had been abandoned as hundreds of masked youths rampaged through the area, smashing windows, hurling stones and setting off fireworks.
The mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, said that despite the big police presence, security forces had failed to prevent the violence and he called for an inquiry.
But interior minister Michele Alliot-Marie rejected charges that police had failed to protect residents
“The security forces did their job perfectly,” she told RTL radio.
“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,” she said.
“Their second mission was to protect the people of Strasbourg against the violence of the extremists who used the internet to call for blockades and violence and there were no injuries in the population,” Alliot-Marie said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved