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Police hurt in May Day clashes in Berlin, Hamburg

SCATTERED violence erupted in the early hours of the May Day holiday in Berlin and Hamburg that left dozens of police injured, authorities said today.

Berlin police said 29 riot police were hurt and 12 people detained when about 200 protesters chanting anti-capitalism slogans threw bottles and stones at police after a street party ended in the eastern district of Friedrichshain.

Several trash containers were set on fire as the otherwise peaceful gathering of about 2,000 people was ending, police said. Demonstrators also threw bottles and stones at trams and cars. Several glass windows at bus stops were destroyed.

In Hamburg, authorities said three riot police were injured in clashes with demonstrators.

Police in Berlin are bracing for further violence today when members of far-right parties, labour unions and leftists march. The economic crisis, which has sent unemployment soaring and raised public ire over a growing disparity in wages, along with simmering anger over "gentrification" in some low-rent districts have raised police worries about this year's May Day.

Rioting on the May 1 Labour Day holiday, that since it started in 1987 has caused extensive damage to parts of the city, had been on the wane in the last three years after police shifted tactics from battling rioters to de-escalation.

May Day is traditionally marked by union rallies in many European countries and the global economic downturn is expected to swell the crowds this year. Germany is suffering its worst recession since World War Two.

In France, the eight main unions have called for massive nationwide protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy's handling of the economy -- their third such day of action this year -- and a big union demonstration is also expected in Madrid, Spain.


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