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German neo-Nazi protests turn violent

BERLIN, May 1 (UPI) -- More than half a million Germans took part in about 500 May Day rallies, some of which turned violent.

In Leipzig, some 550 neo-Nazis aiming to stage a demonstration faced off with 5,000 radical left-wing protesters, who hurled bottles and burning trash cans at the neo-Nazis, who fired back stones. Police scrambled to keep the two factions from engaging in more violence, according to German news channel N24.

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In Rostock, roughly 4,000 police kept 1,000 left-wingers from disrupting an authorized rally of the right-wing NPD party. Several dozen individuals were arrested in both cities.

Meanwhile the vast majority of demonstrations remained peaceful, with trade unions using verbal ammunition to fire at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, urging her not to cut social welfare when tackling key reforms.

"We are not going to stand by and watch the government take apart the public health system piece by piece," Franz Bsirske, the president of the public service trade union Verdi, said in Berlin, according to Deutsche Welle Online.

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