Nato 60th summit in Strasbourg marred by street battles and arson
Buildings were set on fire and running battles were fought between protesters and riot police in the streets of Strasbourg, where Barack Obama and world leaders have gathered for a Nato summit.
By Bruno Waterfield and Peter Allen
Anarchists and demonstrators set fires at a hotel, a disused border post and a tourism office around Strasbourg's Pont de l'Europe, a bridge that joins France and Germany.
Police fired volleys of teargas to try to stop groups of violent French and German protesters joining forces to rampage across the city.
Masked youths threw petrol bombs, smashed windows and ransacked shops, forcing police to retreat until riot officers could regroup to seize back control.
Eyewitnesses saw black-clad protesters storm the nearby Ibis hotel, pilfering alcohol from its bar and setting the building ablaze.
"The hotel and the other buildings were completely engulfed in flames," said a resident of the city who witnessed the mayhem.
"The police had completely lost control and the firemen could not put out the flames. It was only when the police sent a squad which fired tear gas rounds that the blaze could be tackled."
As fires blazed, German police officers turned water cannon that they had been using to douse protesters onto the flames.
Many of the protesters - described as a "small army" by one police officer - were members of the sinister Black Bloc group, a notorious anarchist gang.
The violence followed a huge Franco-German police operation, costing 150 million euros (£132 million).
Hundreds of anti-Nato activists have been arrested in the past two days.
President Nicolas Sarkozy had instructed police that he did not want to see any signs of protest during events to mark Nato's 60th anniversary.
But the wives of world leaders, including Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni, were forced to cancel a visit to a cancer hospice because of the widespread rioting.
And, as Nato leaders departed on Saturday night plumes of smoke could be seen rising from many points across the city.