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Tension rises amid German ban on demos at G8 perimeter

With tension rising between German leftists and authorities over policing at next month’s G8 summit on the Baltic coast, a senior Berlin official defended Wednesday a security cordon at the venue.

Not only has a 12-kilometre-long welded-mesh fence been erected around the Heiligendamm beach resort, but police announced Tuesday demonstrators would not be allowed to approach closer than 200 metres to the fence. Anti-globalization groups and others hostile to the joint economic policies of the seven leading western nations and Russia were angered last week by police raids to seize their computer disks and documents.

Protest groups say the crackdown is a moral victory for the left, encouraging sympathy for the anti-G8 cause. The ban on near-up protests added to the tension in the run-up to the June 6-8 event. August Hanning, state secretary at the German Interior Ministry, said on ARD television Wednesday that as summit host, Germany had to ban demonstrating at the fence. „As hosts, we have the duty to do everything to protect our guests,” he said. „But we will also ensure that rallies can take place to criticize the summit and certain aspects of globalization.”

The restriction by area police applies from May 30 to June 8 and also applies at Rostock Airport where many guests will arrive by air. Hanning said on television that police had no intelligence suggesting there would be violence against people, but said petrol bombings of houses by militants, which had already occurred, risked causing human injury. (