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Dozens arrested in Sweden as neo-Nazis, anti-fascists clash with police

GOTHENBURG, Sweden (Reuters) - More than 30 people were arrested on Saturday as both neo-Nazis and anti-fascists clashed with police during a march by the extreme right-wing Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, police said.

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The NMR gathered hundreds of people for the march, many armed with shields and helmets, while many thousands of counter-protestors also hit the streets of Gothenburg.

Police had prepared for violence to break out and had called in reinforcements from all police districts in Sweden and added 350 temporary jail beds in a police garage.

Membership in Nazi organisations is not illegal in Sweden and the NMR had a permit from the police to march.

Swedish police said on their website that 35 people had been arrested during the day. At least two people were injured, including one police officer who broke his arm.

“Given the intent that many had here today, the scenario could have been much worse,” commanding officer Emilie Kullmyr told daily Dagens Nyheter.

The neo-Nazi march was halted in the early afternoon, before it reached its designated starting point, after a clash with the police. Police put up a ring around the NMR demonstrators to keep them apart from anti-fascists.

The neo-Nazis clashed with police several times and during speeches they singled out politicians and the media as responsible for high levels of immigration in Sweden.

At 1600 GMT the neo-Nazi demonstrators had been escorted by police to their initial meeting point in the outskirts of Gothenburg. The many cordons in the central city were lifted.

Sweden has taken in more immigrants per capita than any other EU-country in recent years, much to the dismay of right-wing groups.

The extreme-right groups have become more active in Sweden, according to police. Three former members of the NMR were convicted earlier this year of a series of bombings targeting immigrants and political opponents.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Johannes Hellström; Editing by Stephen Powell