Hundreds of anti-austerity protesters clashed with police and set fire to at least seven squad cars in the German city of Frankfurt early Wednesday, officials told NBC News. The skirmishes broke out during demonstrations organized by the pan-European anti-austerity Blockupy movement protesting the inauguration ceremony of the new offices of the European Central Bank.
Fourteen officers were injured in the clashes, police told NBC News.
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“The atmosphere is highly aggressive,” police spokeswoman Tessa Koscheg said, adding that there were "several hundreds" of protesters.
Frankfurt Police posted pictures to its Twitter account of an armored vehicle and a water cannon being used in the streets. Barriers and barbed wire cordoned off the new ECB headquarters.
Some protesters spilled over into the city center and police said they were engaging with several smaller groups of demonstrators along the city's river Main and one of its shopping districts. "We are recommending to the public to avoid the city center at the moment," Koscheg said.
The ECB, whose new Frankfurt headquarters were due to open Wednesday, has been involved in implementing budget cuts in Europe's financially troubled countries, such as Spain and Greece.
- Andy Eckardt and Carlo Angerer