(photo credit: Courtesy)
Neo-Nazis trying to march through the Jewish quarter of Prague clashed with self-proclaimed anti-fascists, and at least 250 people were arrested in outbreaks of violence around the capital.
Two neo-Nazis lay in a thick pool of blood after being kicked and beaten by a group of German anarchists.
A masked spokesman for the anti-Fascist movement said his group had assaulted at least 12 other neo-Nazis in the city center.
Police also seized weapons, including a gas gun, axes and sticks at scattered sites as the extremists tried to reach the Jewish quarter, police spokesman Ladislav Bernasek said.
At least six people, including one policeman, suffered head injuries, said Prague rescue service spokeswoman Jirina Ernestova.
The march had been scheduled to take place just a day after the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 night of terror when the Nazis attacked synagogues and Jewish homes and businesses throughout Germany and parts of Austria.
The march was banned, and about 1,400 policemen were deployed in the capital, including riot police and officers on horses. Equipped with armored vehicles and water cannons, they sealed off most of the historic Jewish quarter.
In a major clash downtown, a group of about two dozen neo-Nazis was attacked by self-proclaimed antifascists who said were in the streets to prevent the march, Bernasek said.
About 50 left-wing extremists attacked police with cobble stones in another area.
More than 250 people were detained around the city, including 10 German-speaking left-wing extremists armed with sticks, Bernasek said.
Bernasek said police continued to monitor the movement of a several hundred neo-Nazi extremists across the capital but they had begun to disperse.
Jewish leaders and Czech politicians condemned the planned march as an insult to the victims of the Holocaust.
Hundreds of Jews and others gathered in the historic Jewish quarter to commemorate the Nazi pogrom, protest the march and be ready, if it went ahead, to prevent it from going through the Jewish quarter.
We are here "to protest attempts of neo-Nazi groups to publicly promote anti-Semitic, racist and other abusive ideas," said Jiri Danicek, head of the federation of Jewish communities.
The organizers were the Young National Democrats, which is linked to the National Resistance, a neo-Nazi group. They said their intention was to protest the deployment of Czech troops in Iraq and they pledged to defy the ban.
"We came here to show our support for the Czech Jewish community, why we're against all these anti-Semitism and neo-Nazis," said Allan Silverman, 61, from Huntington Beach, California, who was visiting Prague with his wife Barbara and learned about the gathering.
"They're picking a very holy day, a very sad day in Jewish history and we fell we need to support the Czech community against anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism."
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