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May Day skirmishes in Germany

German neo-Nazis clash with police outside a train station in Frankfurt  

BERLIN, Germany -- Trouble spilled over into May Day protests across the country after violent clashes left two people hospitalised in Berlin the night before.

An estimated 5,000 police officers were on the streets in Frankfurt trying to marshall marches by far right and leftists on Wednesday.

Scuffles broke out between officers and neo-Nazis who were gathering for a rally after the demonstrators refused to subject themselves to body checks en route to the march, The Associated Press reported.

Police said they used truncheons to subdue the marchers, who shouted "We are the people" and anti-U.S. slogans.

Counter-demonstrators tried to block Frankfurt streets with burning tyres.

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Police were also called in to break-up a face-off between about 500 far right and 240 leftist groups on the outskirts of Berlin city centre Wednesday morning.

Police tried to push the left-wing marchers back, CNN's Stephanie Halasz said.

NPD demonstrators then proceeded on their march carrying anti-immigration banners saying "Work for Germans Only" and blowing whistles.

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Trouble began on the eve of May Day after violence spilled over after a rock concert.

One woman was seriously injured when a glass bottle hit her head in the Tuesday night melee in the Kreuzberg district.

Dozens of others suffered cuts to their head after bottles and fireworks were thrown at crowds in the district as well as another Berlin area, Prenzlauer Berg.

The Kreuzberg riot started at about 10 p.m. (2000 GMT), following an open-air rock concert. One supermarket was looted.

Kreuzberg has been the scene of violence in previous May Day demonstrations. Before the fall of communism in 1987, May 1 riots nearly reduced the district to rubble.

The police said the violence in Prenzlauer Berg was the fiercest since 1998, Reuters news agency reported.

Prenzlauer Berg , Berlin
Police and demonstrators hold a stand-off in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin  

It began when a group of about 500 anarchists lit a large fire on a main street and then pelted the fire brigade with bottles and stones.

Police used water cannon against the demonstrators and hundreds of riot police moved in.

Reuters quoted police as saying 21 officers were injured in Kreuzberg and 62 in Prenzlauer Berg. A total of 29 people were detained.

May 1 is recognised as Labour Day in Germany and many other countries, and police are braced for any trouble. (Full story)

Six thousand police officers will be on duty in London where violence has broken out during recent years, while 3,500 will be prepared for any clashes between pro and anti demonstrators in Paris against far right presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen.




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