leipzig nye protest
© Global Look Press / Sebastian Willnow
The German city of Leipzig saw its streets turn into an arena for intense clashes between police and rioters on New Year's Eve as hundreds gathered in the city's east.

Soon after the clock struck midnight, the Leipzig police began receiving the first reports about violence and property damage. Officers had to respond to almost 170 calls in Leipzig and its surrounding areas in just over two hours on Saturday night, police said in a statement. They called it a "sharp increase" in comparison to an "ordinary Friday night."

A crowd comprising "hundreds" of people gathered at Eisenbahnstrasse Street in the city's east, with the area quickly becoming an arena for clashes between rioting revelers and law enforcement. Police vehicles were pelted with various objects, including firecrackers. The rioters also set up barricades from shopping carts and set them on fire.

Photos from the scene showed officers in riot gear moving through thick smoke coming from the burning barricades. The Eisenbahnstrasse has previously gained notoriety due to local crime rates and the drug trade. It was even dubbed Germany's "worst street."

Police said several of their vehicles were damaged but that the clashes resulted in no injuries and were under control at around 2am local time. It is still unclear who initiated the violence and what motivated the rioters.

It is not the first time Leipzig has seen clashes on New Year's Eve. The city has for some time been known as a center of left-wing violence. Last year, unknown assailants set vehicles belonging to the German Army - the Bundeswehr - on fire. Two years ago, the city saw riots in the Connewitz district - an area which saw a massive police deployment this year and remained largely peaceful on Saturday night.

Leipzig was not the only German city that witnessed clashes between rioters and police on New Year's Eve, as similar incidents were reported in Stuttgart and Dresden but they were smaller in scale.

Hundreds of vehicles torched on New Year's Eve France's interior minister praised the 'decrease in violence' despite damage to hundreds of cars

A total of 847 cars were set ablaze in France in the early hours of the first day of the new year, the Interior Ministry said, with hundreds of people detained over the destruction.

The mass burning of parked vehicles has become an infamous and much lamented 'tradition' in France, where hundreds of vehicles are torched almost every New Year's Eve.

This year, however, fewer cars were damaged than before, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who attributed the decrease to a bigger police presence and speedy action by relevant public services.

Darmanin thanked police and civil security personnel on Twitter for the "decrease in violence." Despite the efforts of security officials, hundreds of cars were still set ablaze - but Darmanin noted the number was smaller than in 2019, when more than 1,300 vehicles were torched.

Some 95,000 police officers and gendarmes were deployed to the streets of the French cities on Saturday night to maintain law and order, as well as enforce the government's Covid-19 restrictions that put a cap on participants at gatherings. Around 32,000 firefighters and civil security officials also aided in dealing with the nighttime incidents.

In the French city of Strasbourg alone, 87 cars were set on fire, around 30 people were arrested and four police officers were injured, according to the French media. The city saw the rioters mounting particularly fierce resistance and clashing with law enforcement, including by pelting the officers with firecrackers.

The total number of detentions and arrests was also slightly higher than in 2019, with 441 people arrested throughout France.

The practice of car-torching became popular among youths in poor French neighborhoods in the 1990s and it became particularly widespread on New Year's Eve. It also reached an unprecedented scale during three weeks of riots that engulfed the suburbs of the French capital, Paris, and other cities back in 2005. At that time, 8,810 vehicles were burned.