HEILIGENDAMM, Germany (Reuters) - Police rammed two inflatable speed boats that breached a security zone around a seaside resort where world leaders were meeting on Thursday, tipping activists into the Baltic and injuring three of them.
Land access to the Group of Eight (G8) summit venue, a luxury hotel in the small seaside town of Heiligendamm, was blocked for a second day as thousands of anti-globalization protesters jammed nearby roads and scuffled with riot police.
Police said nearly 260 protesters had been detained on Thursday, adding to almost 160 detentions on Wednesday around the 12-km (7.5-mile) fence sealing off Heiligendamm. Witnesses said at least two demonstrators were injured.
A spokesman for environmental pressure group Greenpeace said as many as 11 rubber dinghies had attempted to deliver a message to G8 leaders asking them to commit to substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Four protesters ended up in the Baltic waters after patrol boats chased them at high speed and intercepted them, while police helicopters clattered overhead.
Greenpeace spokesman Tobias Muenchmeyer said a number of activists had been detained, and their boats impounded. Police said three protesters and a policemen were injured.
Separately, police in the city of Rostock detained what they said were some 160 supporters of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) who demonstrated there against the G8. Authorities had refused to grant them permission to demonstrate.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed the Greenpeace protest.
“I hope they won’t emit too much CO2 with their boat trips out there on the Baltic sea,” Merkel told reporters after G8 leaders agreed to pursue “substantial” cuts in greenhouse gases.
Riot police used water cannon and pepper spray to clear an access road to Heiligendamm that had been blocked by some 200 anti-G8 demonstrators, as thousands more joined a second day of protests at the fence around the summit complex.
The main entrance to Heiligendamm has been blocked for over 24 hours. Some 4,000 demonstrators, many of whom had spent the night sleeping in front of the security fence, were sitting on the narrow, tree-lined road, determined not to move until the summit officially ends on Friday.
Germany’s constitutional court has banned demonstrations in a four-mile zone around the fence, but the mostly peaceful demonstrators have largely ignored the court order.
Germany has deployed some 16,000 police and security personnel in the coastal area around Heiligendamm in its biggest single security operation since World War Two.
In the nearby port city of Rostock, some 70,000 people attended an anti-G8 concert featuring rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof, who have been lobbying world leaders to honor aid pledges they made to Africa two years ago.
Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold