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London police arrest suspected far-right protesters

From Per Nyberg, CNN
November 12, 2011 -- Updated 1527 GMT (2327 HKT)
Veterans observe the two-minute silence at Spean Bridge in Scotland as a mark of respect for the war dead on November 11, 2011.
Veterans observe the two-minute silence at Spean Bridge in Scotland as a mark of respect for the war dead on November 11, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police arrest 179 people thought to belong to far-right English Defence League
  • Almost all of them have since been released without further action
  • Reports suggest police acted to prevent clashes with anti-capitalist protesters

London (CNN) -- A total of 179 people were arrested Friday in central London during Remembrance Day commemorations, the city's Metropolitan Police told CNN Saturday.

Those arrested were believed to be protesters from the English Defence League, police said, a far-right group.

In a post on its website, the group accused the Metropolitan Police of "Stasi-like" behavior, a reference to the much-feared secret police in former East Germany.

UK media reports suggest the protesters were heading towards marchers from the Occupy London anti-capitalist protest camp and that the arrests were made to prevent clashes.

The English Defence League said its members had simply gathered to mark Remembrance Day, when a wreath is laid in London and a two-minute silence is observed by millions across Britain and elsewhere to remember the sacrifices of the armed services.

The Metropolitan Police said those detained were taken to police stations across London.

Three people were arrested for brawling and have been bailed pending further inquiries. The remainder were arrested to prevent a breach of the peace and have since been released without further action, the police said.

The English Defence League, which pushes an anti-Islamic message, was formed in the summer of 2009 after a group of radical Muslims protested during a homecoming parade for British troops.

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