Clashes at right-wing protest

2010-03-20 22:07

London - Police in northwest England said on Saturday they had arrested 67 people following violent clashes between right-wing and anti-fascist demonstrators.

Thousands of people joined a rally in the city of Bolton organised by the English Defence League (EDL), which has held numerous protests in recent months against Islamic extremism in Britain.

A counter-demonstration was organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and police blamed these protesters for most of the violence, noting that at least 55 of those arrested were from the UAF and nine from the EDL.

"Today (Saturday) in Bolton we have seen groups of people, predominantly associated with the UAF, engaging in violent confrontation," said Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of Greater Manchester Police.

"It is clear to me that a large number have attended with the sole intention of committing disorder and their actions have been wholly unacceptable.

"Turning their anger on to police officers, they acted with, at times, extreme violence and their actions led to injuries to police officers, protesters and members of the public."

At the peak of the protest there were 2 000 far-right protesters in the square, and about 1 500 anti-fascists, police said.

Two members of the public were hurt by protesters and two police officers were given hospital treatment, one for a fractured finger and another for a dog bite, police said.