Unauthorised rally leaves Bern in shambles

Government buildings suffered damage during the clashes Keystone

Authorities in the capital Bern have “severely condemned” attacks against police and damage to property in clashes during an unauthorised and politically-charged techno parade that left around 50 people injured, including 21 members of the security forces.

This content was published on May 27, 2013 minutes and agencies

The authorities had decided to let the "Tanz dich frei" (Dance Yourself Free) parade go ahead on Saturday, providing security forces and emergency services in the city’s old town. They said that they were disappointed, especially since there was only a small minority of troublemakers.

Bern police said Sunday they had arrested 61 people. More than 10,000 people took part in the parade’s third edition, calling for more night-time entertainment in the city.

Trouble erupted in the early hours of Sunday, after a standoff between riot police and dozens of masked and hooded "Black Bloc" hardliners on the square in front of parliament.

According to correspondents, one group attempted to break down temporary barriers protecting parliament. Police responded with tear gas and a water cannon which sent the crowd scattering across the square, as a helicopter circled overhead.

Some protesters held their ground, pelting police and the water cannon with bottles, fireworks and flares.

The police said they faced an “extremely high outburst of violence”, leading to facial injuries for one member of the transport police. Emergency services intervened around 50 times, including for 30 people who were transferred to hospitals, mostly because of alcohol abuse.

The authorities reckon that several hundred thousands of francs worth of damage was caused in the city. Around 70 shop windows were destroyed and some food stores were looted.

Police spent most of the night chasing down and fighting demonstrators.

On Monday the local authorities decided to launch a criminal investigation, currently against unknown perpetrators.

Taking no chances

The heart of the capital was locked down on Saturday ahead of the parade, with crowds of youngsters preparing to take to the streets.

After last year's edition drew huge numbers and saw a minority of black-clad hardliners make for the Swiss parliament to spray slogans on its walls, the authorities were taking no chances.

Barriers were set up on the square in front of the parliament building, and police clad in riot gear deployed at strategic points in the old town.

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