German left-wing protesters clash with police, AfD backers

German police detain some 400 left-wing demonstrators after clashing with police and anti-immigration AfD supporters.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Anti-AFD protesters and police forces face during a rally of the German right wing party AfD (Alternative fuer Deutschland) at the Stuttgart Congress Centre ICS on April 30, 2016.

German left-wing demonstrators burned tyres and hurled fireworks and stones on Saturday in clashes with police and AfD supporters, as the right-wing party gathered for its congress near the south-western city of Stuttgart, police said.

Some 400 protesters were detained, a police spokesman said.

The demonstrators temporarily blocked access roads to the site of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party's annual conference, by setting tyres on fire and forming human chains, police spokesman Lambert Maute said.

The clashes underlined growing social tensions in Germany after a record-influx of more than 1 million refugees arrived in 2015 alone.

A police woman uses pepper spray against a protester as the police escorts a party member to the party congress of German right wing party AfD in Stuttgart, on April 30, 2016. (AFP)

The violence began at around 6am and clashes continued for four hours, forcing the AfD's two-day congress - which was expected to draw up a party platform encompassing its immigrations views - to open late.

"Police detained around 400 violent protesters who threw stones at officers and attacked them with fireworks," Maute said, adding there were more than 1,000 security forces and about the same number of demonstrators overall.

The police used pepper spray and a water cannon to stop protesters, some of whom were masked, from getting onto the grounds of the conference, but said that some demonstrators still managed to assault several party members.

"There were no injuries reported, only some minor incidents of eye irritation due to the pepper spray," the spokesman said.

The AfD's anti-immigration and anti-Islam policies were expected to be in focus at the conference. The Eurosceptic party’s agenda will also include criticism of the European Central Bank's ultra-loose monetary policy.

TRTWorld, Reuters