Merkel condemns ‘abhorrent’ Stuttgart rampage

BERLIN (AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply condemned a violent rampage in Stuttgart, her spokesman said yesterday, calling the brutal attacks against police officers and the looting of shops by hundreds of people “abhorrent”.

“Whoever has done this has turned against their city, against the people with whom they live and against the laws that protect us all,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said of the riots that erupted over the weekend.

German authorities have expressed shock over the rampage of an “unprecedented scale” in the early hours of Sunday in the city centre of Stuttgart, where hundreds of partygoers ran riot, attacking police and plundering stores after smashing shop windows. Two dozen people, half of them German nationals, were arrested provisionally, as police reported at least 19 colleagues hurt.

Tensions built up shortly after midnight when officers carried out checks on a 17-year-old German man suspected of using drugs, Stuttgart deputy police chief Thomas Berger said. Crowds who were milling around at the city’s biggest square, the Schlossplatz, immediately rallied around the young man and began flinging stones and bottles at police.

The groups also used sticks or poles to smash windows of police vehicles parked around the square, which is next to the regional parliament of Baden-Wuerttemberg as well as the state’s Finance Ministry.