BERLIN: Eighteen people were injured as the anti-migrant far-right and counter-protesters held opposing rallies in the German city of Chemnitz, which was hit by xenophobic demonstrations last week.
Chemnitz has been in the spotlight after violent protests erupted over the fatal stabbing of a German man, allegedly by a Syrian and an Iraqi last Sunday.
On Saturday, thousands of people answered a joint call by far-right party AfD and Islamophobic PEGIDA street movement to descend once again on the streets of the former communist city which was in the erstwhile East Germany.
But an equally large contingent of counter protesters, including Green party and Social Democratic Party MPs, also converged to take a stand against racism.
According to police estimates, more than 11,000 demonstrators turned up for the separate protests.
Local police, backed up by officers from across Germany, were out in force to keep both sides from clashing. But as the rallies cleared, scuffles took place among small groups.
SPD MP Soeren Bartol said on Twitter that his group from Marburg were “attacked by Nazis” while they were heading for the bus.
“All SPD flags destroyed and some were also physically attacked,” he wrote, adding that police had arrived swiftly to halt the assault.