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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

G8 Protesters Clash With Police

ROSTOCK, Germany -- Protesters with black hoods and bandanas covering their faces showered police with rocks and beer bottles before the heavily armored officers drove them back with water cannons and tear gas during a rally against an upcoming Group of Eight summit.

The group -- comprising Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- will try to paper over deep divisions on global warming and announce plans to increase funds for combating AIDS in Africa.

But differences on major global issues may overshadow the areas of consensus, even if leaders avoid any public disputes.

President Vladimir Putin's combative, Cold War-style rhetoric in recent weeks had the German hosts worried about an ugly confrontation with U.S. President George W. Bush.

Black smoke from burning cars mingled with the sting of tear gas in the harbor-front area of the northern German town of Rostock on Saturday, where tens of thousands of people had gathered peacefully at the start of the day. The clashes broke out among hundreds of stone-throwing demonstrators and police on the edges of the crowd as the rally progressed.

Some 146 police were hurt, 25 of them seriously. Police said they made 17 arrests.

It was an unruly start to what is expected to be a week of rallies against the three-day G8 summit beginning Wednesday in the fenced-off coastal resort of Heiligendamm, 22 kilometers from Rostock.

Police have surrounded the summit site with a fence topped with barbed wire and closed the surrounding waters and airspace, fearing terrorism or disorderly protests like the ones at a 2001 summit in Genoa, Italy, where police and protesters clashed for days and one demonstrator was killed. Protests near the fence have been banned.

In Rostock, the officially permitted demonstration began peacefully Saturday with two groups of marchers gathering at the waterfront. Clashes broke out near the end of the scheduled four-hour rally, as some people pried up paving stones and broke them into smaller pieces.

Eventually, five large green police trucks with twin water cannons mounted on top moved in to blast the rioters. A police car was destroyed and several parked cars were set ablaze, spreading black smoke over the area.

Police spokesman Frank Sch?len estimated the number of violent demonstrators at about 2,000. Police put the size of the demonstration at 25,000, while organizers said it was 80,000.

AP, Reuters