Protesters torch cars as G20 unrest escalates into running riots

Clashes between anti-G20 protesters and police have continued in running riots through the streets of Hamburg.

Anti-globalisation activists torched dozens of cars, lit fires in the streets, and tried to block leaders' delegations from entering the grounds of the Group of 20 summit.

What started as a peaceful protest on Saturday quickly descended into chaos as police battered protesters.

Shortly afterwards, pockets of violence began erupting throughout the city as the situation escalated.

Nearly 200 police officers have been injured in street battles between the two sides, most of whom had only minor wounds.

There has been no figure given for the number of injured protesters. However, the city's fire department said 60 civilians were taken to hospital by ambulance on Friday alone.

That number included 11 people who were severely injured by falling off a wall after fleeing from riot police.

Riot police deployed water cannon and pepper spray to beat back demonstrators.

In return, bottles, bricks and fireworks were lobbed by protesters.

More than 20,000 officers were deployed to contain protests, but the force on Friday ordered in more than 900 more to reinforce them.

Much of the blame for the increasingly bitter atmosphere was directed at police for their heavy-handed techniques.

Kathleen Mueller, a 56-year-old protester from Potsdam near Berlin, criticized police for what she said were "brutal responses" to overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations.

She said she saw riot police wrenching apart a peaceful human chain and dragging people off.

"They didn't have to do that, there was no resistance, it was just to cause pain and it shouldn't happen," she said.

However, German politicians including Angela Merkel have condemned the anti-globalist demonstrators.

She said: "I have every understanding for peaceful demonstrations, but violent demonstrations endanger human lives, they endanger people themselves, they put police officers and security forces in danger, put residents in danger, and so that is unacceptable."