PRAGUE, Czech Republic – Unleashing a fresh round of fury against economic globalization, 5,000 protesters marched on the IMF and World Bank summit Tuesday, throwing firebombs, sticks and rocks at police who responded with clubs, tear gas and water cannons.
The enemies of capitalism didn’t get the 20,000 activists they had hoped for but were still able to raise a ruckus that left at least 69 people injured and turned Prague into a smoky battle zone.
Protesters threw Molotov cocktails and rocks they had made by breaking up a cobblestone sidewalk. Authorities pushed demonstrators back each time they approached the communist-era convention center where the titans of global capitalism had huddled to ponder economic issues.
Hundreds of activists got so close, however, that officials temporarily stopped the International Monetary Fund and World Bank delegates and staff from leaving before evacuating them through a subway station closed to the public.
The skies over Prague filled with black smoke after some of the demonstrators built barricades in the streets and set them ablaze, also torching cars in what they billed as a sequel to riots that marred recent economic meetings in Seattle and Washington, D.C.
One of the main goals of the protesters had been to trap the IMF and World Bank delegates inside the convention center, which happened briefly. The fighting hurt at least 69 people, and 44 were hospitalized, including 34 police officers who were attacked by wave after wave of protesters.
After nightfall, a group of 200 anarchists moved through the streets, smashing out bank windows and demolishing a McDonald’s outlet – the second to be struck in the riot – and a KFC. Police chased them away and the city was mostly calm late Tuesday night.
Another 1,500 activists had blocked the road outside the State Opera House, where a reception for dignitaries was canceled, but that protest faded without incident.
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