After a weekend outbreak of violence between two motorcycle gangs, Germany's detective association has called for the Hell's Angels and Bandidos groups to be banned.
The gang war between the Hell's Angels and the Bandidos has escalated
A series of violent incidents in Germany's Ruhr region involving members of rival motorcycle gangs - the Hell's Angels and the Bandidos - has prompted police association to call for the groups to be banned.
Some 50 to 60 members of the two gangs were involved in a mass brawl that broke out in the red-light district of the city of Duisburg on Saturday night. Members of the Hell's Angels, armed with baseball bats and clubs, descended upon a bar frequented by Bandidos members.
A few hours later, in the town of Solingen, a hand grenade was thrown in a Hell's Angels club house containing 20 people. The device did not explode.
In the city of Essen, police reported shots fired at a club frequented by Bandidos early Sunday morning.
"It is obvious that with the incidents in Duisburg, Solingen and Essen we are dealing with a battle between organized crime groups that are ready to use very violent methods," Wilfried Albishausen, deputy chair of the German Police Detectives Federation, told the Rheinische Post newspaper.
German police have had both gangs under close observation for some time now and report that their investigations point to the groups' involvement in drug trafficking and illegal prostitution.
Searches of gang premises have found weapons, according to Thomas Jungbluth of the Duesseldorf police.
The Bandidos and the Hell's Angels are thought to be involved in a range of illegal activities
He said the recent escalation of violence pointed to a fight over territory and markets.
According to the Rheinische Post, police want to begin a special nationwide criminal investigation of the motorcycle gangs. The groups are estimated to have several thousand members in Germany.
The Hell's Angels gang was formed in 1948 by Harley-Davidson motorcycle fans in California. Today it is the largest motorcycle gang in the world. A Europol investigation from 2005 found that half of the members in Europe and Canada had criminal records.
The Bandidos were formed in 1966 by Vietnam veterans in Texas. The first European chapter was started in 1989 in France.