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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
No chances over G8 security
By Steve Rosenberg
BBC News, Rostock

A man fixes a CCTV camera inside a security fence
It is the biggest security operation in Germany since WWII

The G8 leaders like to claim they are in touch with the problems of ordinary people.

But when then they sit down to business in the German resort town of Heiligendamm, eight of the world's most powerful presidents and prime ministers will be sealed off from the "ordinary" people they are trying to help.

A seven-mile-long (11km) security fence has thrown a ring of steel, concrete and barbed wire around the summit venue.

The fence digs deep into ground - to prevent any G8 opponents from tunnelling their way through.

Off the coast, a 20-mile (32km)exclusion zone has been put in place - making it impossible for boats to pass by anywhere near Germany's seaside summit.

There is a two-mile long net in the water to catch the more adventurous protesters who might consider swimming up secretly to the summit location.

Biggest operation

And then there is the little matter of 16,000 police who will be on patrol in the area - that is 5% of the total number of German police - making this the biggest security operation in Germany since World War II.

Critics of the G8 say the security is excessive - an example of how politicians have become scared of the people.

But German police maintain the measures are necessary, especially in light of the riots in Rostok last Saturday, when around 1,000 police officers and demonstrators were injured in clashes between riot police and left-wing extremists.

Police patrol the security fence around Heiligendamm
The security fence around the complex is seven miles long

Police say they were attacked with bottles, slabs of ripped up paving stones and sticks.

The security forces responded with water cannon and tear gas.

The authorities fear that a hardcore of up to 2,000 violent protesters are still in the area - and still planning to cause trouble.

The German government makes no apologies for the tight security which has turned the summit location into a fortress.

Chancellor Angela Merkel does not want her G8 spoilt by the kind of violence that has marred previous summits - particularly in Genoa in 2001, when one protester was killed.

Last summer Germany won worldwide praise for its low-key and friendly policing of the World Cup.

But with the G8 summit a target for extremist groups - and for terrorists - this time, the Germans are taking no chances with security.


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