Germany braces for May Day clashes

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Police in Germany were bracing Saturday for what has become traditional May Day violence, fearing clashes with both leftist and right-wing extremists.

The international day of the worker has for the past two decades been accompanied in German cities by sporadic street violence and pitched battles between far-right skinheads, anti-fascist groups and police.

In the capital Berlin some 3,000 police will be deployed overnight Saturday and twice as many the following night, a police spokesman told AFP.

In Hamburg, Germany's second largest city and biggest port, 2,000 officers were to police demonstrations, with the worst expected overnight Saturday.

Police in both cities have been reinforced with officers from other regions.

"I think we will see new clashes," DPolG police union official Bodo Pfalzgraf told rbb radio and television in Berlin.

After several relatively peaceful years, clashes had returned to the capital in 2009.

Last year eight police officers and a fireman were injured in clashes in Berlin's central Kreuzberg district as demonstrators torched cars and waste containers.

In Hamburg, five policemen and a firefighter were also hurt in the violence.

© 2011 AFP

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