The German state of Hesse has banned two Frankfurt-based Hells Angels chapters and confiscated their assets.

Interior minister Boris Rhein cited a history of weapons offences and violence, saying: "These gangs are not in any way made up only of harmless motorbike riders.

"Many members are known to the police because of violent, drug or weapon-related offences."

The interior ministry said it had the authority to ban clubs when their aims or activities broke the law.

It quoted a recent report from Germany's federal criminal investigation office which showed that one in every 10 investigations into organised crime was linked to a criminal biker gang.

Rhein said the authorities were closely monitoring the motorcycle gangs in Hesse and had others in their sights.

"We have a zero-tolerance strategy," he added.

The Hells Angels were formed in California nearly 60 years ago and have chapters around the world. There have been chapters in Germany since 1970. - Reuters