By India Today World Desk: German police on Saturday said that as many as 26 police officers were injured during unrest at an Eritrean cultural event in the western city of Giessen, around 50 kilometres north of Frankfurt. The police briefly arrested around 200 people at the festival.
Police said bottles were thrown at them and smoke bombs were ignited as groups of Eritreans opposed to the African nation’s autocratic ruler tried to force their way to the venue.
About 1,000 officers, water cannon, pepper spray and helicopters are deployed in the city to control the situation, reported DW News.
Around 200 people took part in the rally opposing the festival. Police spokesman Christopher Pfaff urged the public to avoid the center of Giessen while the operation is ongoing.
This is not the first time central Hesse’s Eritrean festival has seen violent incidents. In August last year, many people were injured at the event after around 100 people attacked helpers and visitors, reported Bild.
The festival’s organisers have been accused of being close to Eritrea’s authoritarian government under Isaias Afwerki, who has ruled the country since its independence from Ethiopia some 30 years ago.
Those instigating the violence at the event this year are regarded as members of the Eritrean opposition.
Eritrea has been the target of international sanctions due to its involvement in regional conflicts, including over abuses in the war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.