| 11.4°C Dublin

More than 100 protesters, 90 officers injured after clash near new European bank HQ in Frankfurt

Close

Four German police cars set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters burn near the European Central Bank (ECB) building hours before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

Four German police cars set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters burn near the European Central Bank (ECB) building hours before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

German riot police officers remove a street blockade of anti-capitalist protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building hours before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

German riot police officers remove a street blockade of anti-capitalist protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building hours before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

A German police car that was set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters burns outside the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters hours before the official opening of its new building in Frankfurt

A German police car that was set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters burns outside the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters hours before the official opening of its new building in Frankfurt

REUTERS

A German police officer who was hit by a paint bomb by anti-capitalist protesters looks at a burning police car near the European Central Bank (ECB) building hours before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

A German police officer who was hit by a paint bomb by anti-capitalist protesters looks at a burning police car near the European Central Bank (ECB) building hours before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

A policeman looks on as German police cars, set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters, burn near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

A policeman looks on as German police cars, set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters, burn near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

Firefighters extinguish flames in burning police cars that were set afire Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy alliance said activists plan to try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism.  (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Firefighters extinguish flames in burning police cars that were set afire Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy alliance said activists plan to try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AP

Fireworkers extinguish police vehicles set of fire by anti-capitalist 'Blockupy' protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

Fireworkers extinguish police vehicles set of fire by anti-capitalist 'Blockupy' protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

Fireworkers extinguish police vehicles set of fire by anti-capitalist 'Blockupy' protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

Fireworkers extinguish police vehicles set of fire by anti-capitalist 'Blockupy' protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

Policemen remove a road block set up by 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

Policemen remove a road block set up by 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

A barricade burns in front of policemen during a protest of members of 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist movement near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

A barricade burns in front of policemen during a protest of members of 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist movement near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

A resident extinguishes a burning barricade during a protest of members of 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist movement near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

A resident extinguishes a burning barricade during a protest of members of 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist movement near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

A policeman holds a flare during a protest of members of 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist movement near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

A policeman holds a flare during a protest of members of 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist movement near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

A protestor empties a trash bin as smoke billows over burning barricades in front of the new ECB headquarters Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy alliance said activists plan to try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism.  (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

A protestor empties a trash bin as smoke billows over burning barricades in front of the new ECB headquarters Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy alliance said activists plan to try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AP

Police chase demonstrators after they threw stones Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy alliance said activists plan to try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism.  (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Police chase demonstrators after they threw stones Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy alliance said activists plan to try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AP

Police forces chase protestors who try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB  Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany, to protest against government austerity and capitalism.  (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Police forces chase protestors who try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany, to protest against government austerity and capitalism. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AP

Masked protestors protect themselves against a water cannon of the police Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy activists try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism.  (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Masked protestors protect themselves against a water cannon of the police Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy activists try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AP

/

Four German police cars set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters burn near the European Central Bank (ECB) building hours before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

Anti-capitalist protesters clashed with riot police near the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt on Wednesday and set fire to barricades and cars, casting a pall over the ceremonial opening of the billion-euro skyscraper.

Some 94 police officers were injured by stones and tear gas flung by a violent minority from within the 3,500 protesters, police said. Rally organisers said there were 7,000 protesters, more than 100 of whom were injured by police.

Seven police cars were set on fire, streets were blocked by burning stacks of tyres and rubbish bins, and shops were damaged in the city centre. Dark smoke billowed in front of the 185-metre high ECB towers and over Frankfurt.

Police used water cannon to try to make a path through the mass of black-clad protesters to the entrance of the building, blocked off from the street by barricades. A total of 550 protesters were detained.

Close

A German police car that was set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters burns outside the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters hours before the official opening of its new building in Frankfurt

A German police car that was set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters burns outside the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters hours before the official opening of its new building in Frankfurt

REUTERS

A German police car that was set on fire by anti-capitalist protesters burns outside the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters hours before the official opening of its new building in Frankfurt

"Police were attacked with stones and spray. Due to the extreme violence we saw in the morning, we have to assume it could happen again," a police spokeswoman said.

ECB President Mario Draghi addressed the demonstrators in his speech at the opening ceremony but said they were missing the point by blaming the ECB.

Close

A resident extinguishes a burning barricade during a protest of members of 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist movement near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

A resident extinguishes a burning barricade during a protest of members of 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist movement near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

A resident extinguishes a burning barricade during a protest of members of 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist movement near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

"European unity is being strained," he said. "People are going through very difficult times. There are some, like many of the protesters outside today, who believe the problem is that Europe is doing too little.

"But the euro area is not a political union of the sort where some countries permanently pay for others," he said.

Close

Policemen remove a road block set up by 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

Policemen remove a road block set up by 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

REUTERS

Policemen remove a road block set up by 'Blockupy' anti-capitalist protesters near the European Central Bank (ECB) building before the official opening of its new headquarters in Frankfurt

"It has always been understood that countries have to be able to stand on their own two feet - that each is responsible for its own policies. The fact that some had to go through a difficult period of adjustment was therefore not a choice that was imposed on them. It was a consequence of their past decisions."

German leaders condemned the violence while defending the right to protest against the ECB. "No one has the right to endanger the life of police and fire officials," Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told a news conference in Berlin.

Close

Masked protestors protect themselves against a water cannon of the police Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy activists try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism.  (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Masked protestors protect themselves against a water cannon of the police Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy activists try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AP

Masked protestors protect themselves against a water cannon of the police Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Blockupy activists try to blockade the new headquarters of the ECB to protest against government austerity and capitalism. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The protest was organised by a group called Blockupy - named after the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011

"Free caviar for everyone," read one sarcastic banner.

"Our protest is against the ECB, as a member of the troika, that, despite the fact that it is not democratically elected, hinders the work of the Greek government. We want the austerity politics to end," Ulrich Wilken, one of the organisers, said.

"We want a loud but peaceful protest," he told Reuters.

Blockupy says it represents grass-roots critics of supranational financial institutions including the "troika": the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, whose inspectors monitor countries such as Greece and Cyprus that have received international bailouts.

The ECB is also influential as a provider of finance to the banks of struggling countries and has in recent weeks sanctioned a drip feed of extra emergency finance to Greece's lenders.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis last week criticised ECB policy towards Athens as "asphyxiating", a criticism also made by the protest organisers.

Reuters