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Violence flares at pandemic protests in Germany

Police have detained dozens of people as tens of thousands have taken part in protests in recent days.

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Demonstrators walk through Greifswald, Germany, in protests against coronavirus restrictions (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP)

Demonstrators walk through Greifswald, Germany, in protests against coronavirus restrictions (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP)

Demonstrators walk through Greifswald, Germany, in protests against coronavirus restrictions (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP)

Police in Germany have reported sporadic violence at demonstrations against the country’s pandemic restrictions, with one protester in the eastern town of Lichtenstein biting an officer and another attempting to steal a service weapon.

Tens of thousands of people in scores of German towns and cities have taken part in weekly marches that organisers have labelled “strolls” in an attempt to bypass restrictions on public gatherings. Counter-protests were also held in towns such as Rostock and Trier, the dpa news agency reported.

Most of the rallies passed peacefully, though many broke rules on social distancing, prompting officers to intervene. Police detained dozens of people, some of whom face criminal charges or fines for breaching Covid-19 rules.

One person attempted to seize an officer's service weapon and a police officer suffered a bite woundSaxony Police

Police in the eastern state of Saxony said the incident late on Monday in Lichtenstein, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of Chemnitz, occurred when officers tried to pull around 60 rowdy people out of a march to check their identities. Several of the protesters attacked police and sprayed them with chemical irritants.

“One person attempted to seize an officer’s service weapon and another police officer suffered a bite wound from a participant of the gathering,” Saxony Police said in a statement.

In Bautzen, further east, some participants of a 600-strong march attempted to break through a police cordon. Officers responded with pepper spray and batons.

In Magdeburg, the capital of neighbouring Saxony-Anhalt state, protesters hurled bottles and fireworks at police. No officers were injured, police said.

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The protests took place before a meeting on Tuesday of Germany’s pandemic expert panel, which is expected to submit new recommendations to the government for how to respond to the latest coronavirus outbreak. A meeting of state and federal leaders is scheduled for Friday.

The national disease control centre, the Robert Koch Institute, said on Tuesday that 30,561 new coronavirus cases had been reported in the past 24 hours, over 9,000 more than a week earlier. The officially recorded infection rate was 239.9 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week.

The health minister has said the real rate is probably two or three times higher because of patchy testing and reporting over the holiday period.

At least 356 new deaths from Covid-19 were reported in Germany on Tuesday.


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