'Eritrean cultural festival' descends into violent chaos
‘Eritrean cultural festival’ descends into violent chaos ‘like a war’, with dozens injured and hundreds of arrests after Stuttgart police were attacked by armed mob
- The clashes broke out between Eritrean government supporters and opponents
- 200 protesters gathered outside the festival in the southwestern German city
An Eritrean culture festival in Stuttgart descended into violent chaos over the weekend as opposing mobs attacked each other and police with stones, bottles, and wooden planks.
The clashes broke out between Eritrean government supporters and opponents as some 200 protesters gathered outside the festival in the southwestern German city.
As violence flared, dozens of people, including at least 26 officers, were injured in the latest string of violence surrounding Eritrean diaspora communities. One resident described the scene as ‘like a war’.
Footage circling on social media showed the barbaric unrest as attackers were seen running in groups and breaking into mass street brawls. A smashed car was also seen winding its way through the clashing groups as police came under attack.
The weekend’s event in Stuttgart was reportedly organised by groups close to the totalitarian dictatorship of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki.
A smashed car was also seen winding its way though the clashing groups as police came under attack in Stuttgart over the weekend
The clashes broke out between Eritrean government supporters and opponents as some 200 protesters gathered outside the festival in the southwestern German city
A police officer stands in the street after riots at an Eritrea event in Stuttgart, Germany, on Saturday
Six of the 26 injured police officers were treated in a hospital for their injuries, police said.
Four event participants and two protesters were also injured, according to police, although information was not immediately available about the severity of their injuries.
The violence reportedly started around lunchtime on Saturday, before the event was set to begin.
Police were forced to use batons and pepper spray in an attempt to quell the attacks and additional police support had to be called in. Armoured police were also flown in by helicopter, local newspapers reported.
‘It was like a war here,’ one resident told Bild after fearing the mass brawls. ‘Men threw stones at the officers from a schoolyard next to us. A police helicopter was on duty. It was so hectic. I thought there would be shooting soon,’ they said.
One of the event organisers, only identified as Solomon T. told the German newspaper that the festival event was intended to be a seminar about Eritrea, before adding that 70 were forced to wait in the hall while the attacks flared outside.
Saturday’s protests were the latest in a string of unrest surrounding Eritrean cultural events in Germany and elsewhere. In July, a clash at an Eritrean festival in the western German city of Giessen left 22 police officers injured.
The violence reportedly started around lunchtime on Saturday, before the event was set to begin in Stuttgart
A police officer is pictured wrangling with one of the protesters as members of the fighting groups run away
A police officer is seen raising his baton amid the violent chaos over the weekend in Stuttgart
A baton-wielding officer is seen during the attacks. As violence flared, dozens of people, including at least 26 officers, were injured in the latest string of violence surrounding Eritrean diaspora communities
German police clashed with groups of protesters. Opposing mobs attacked each other and police with stones, bottles and wooden planks
A group of people is surrounded by police forces after riots at an Eritrea event in Stuttgart, Germany, Saturday
A fight between Eritrean government supporters and opponents in Tel Aviv in early September led to one of the most violent street confrontations among African asylum seekers and migrants in the city’s recent memory.
Tens of thousands of people have fled Eritrea for Europe, many alleging they were mistreated by Isaias’ repressive government.
The conflicts surrounding gatherings like Saturday’s highlight the deep divide among members of the Eritrean diaspora, those who remain close to the government and those who have fled to live in exile and strongly oppose Isaias.
On Saturday, Stuttgart police vice president Carsten Hoefler condemned the protesters’ actions and said in a statement that ‘neither the extent nor the intensity of the violence was apparent in advance.’
City officials said there had been no reason to ban the gathering in advance, but that they will take steps to prevent similar unrest in the future.
‘We must take decisive action against the emergence of conflicts from other states on German soil,’ said Stuttgart Mayor Frank Nopper, according to German news agency dpa.
A smashed car is seen during the violence in Stuttgart over the weekend as opposing groups clashed within the Eritrean diaspora
German police say dozens of people including at least 26 officers were injured during unrest at an Eritrean cultural festival in the southwestern city of Stuttgart
An Eritrean cultural festival descended into violent chaos as police were called to the scene to quell the attacks
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