Police in France and Germany made hundreds of arrests over New Year’s Eve as mobs torched vehicles and shot fireworks at officers. Nevertheless, authorities in both countries described the night as more “peaceful” than last year.
Authorities in Berlin deployed 4,500 police officers to the streets of the German capital in anticipation of unrest, while 90,000 officers were deployed throughout France, including 6,000 in Paris.
In Berlin, police broke up a group of around 500 people throwing fireworks at each other near Alexanderplatz, before remnants of the group began shooting pyrotechnics back at the officers. Several people were arrested for making Molotov cocktails in Neukolln district to the south, police said.
Video footage showed large groups of men – described as being from immigrant backgrounds – shooting fireworks at buildings and passing traffic.
By Monday morning, police had arrested around 390 people. Fifty-four officers were injured, DW reported, 30 of them by fireworks. Berlin’s fire department described the night as a “normal New Year’s Eve,” while State Senator for the Interior Iris Spranger said there were “comparatively few police injuries,” thanks to the large-scale deployment of officers.
Last year, by contrast, mobs of immigrant youths torched vehicles in Neukolln and attacked scores of bystanders, police, and firefighters with fireworks.
Similar scenes played out in Paris and other French cities this year, where nearly 750 vehicles were set on fire, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. Police across France arrested 381 people, with 40 officers suffering minor injuries. “Major festivities took place peacefully, particularly in Paris,” Darmanin wrote on social media, adding “it’s calmer than last year.”
Security had been ratcheted up across Europe in the run-up to the Christmas and New Year period, following a spate of Islamist attacks in France and terrorist threats against Christian churches and Jewish sites in Germany. Multiple arrests were made before Christmas in the Austrian capital of Vienna and the German state of Saarland, while three suspects were arrested on Sunday in connection with an alleged plot to attack the historic cathedral in Cologne.
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