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Far-Right Demonstrators Rally In Eastern Germany, Monitored By 1,000 Police

Right-wing protesters light candles during a protest in Koethen, Germany, on September 16.

More than 1,000 far-right demonstrators marched against Germany’s immigration policies in the eastern town of Koethen, monitored by a similar number of police officers and about 500 counterprotesters.

The anti-migrant protesters on September 16 held banners saying, "Patriotism is not a crime" and "Enough, Frau Merkel -- she has to go."

Many critics see Chancellor Angela Merkel’s relatively liberal policies toward immigrants in recent years as the cause of violence blamed on arrivals from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, African countries, and elsewhere.

Police said the protests in Koethen, a city of about 26,000 people, were mostly peaceful.

Water cannons and mounted police were on hand to keep the peace between far-right groups and the counterprotesters.

A local university warned students to avoid what it described as the site of the "potentially violent demonstrations."

The rally in Koethen was the latest in a number of far-right marches that have gripped eastern Germany in recent weeks.

Far-right organizations, including the anti-Islam group PEGIDA, called the protest over the death of a 22-year-old German man in Koethen a week ago.

Police say the man, who had a heart condition, intervened in a fight between several Afghan migrants there.

According to the authorities, the man was punched in the face and subsequently died of a heart attack.

Two Afghan men, aged 18 and 20, have been arrested.

Officials have expressed concern that the incident could lead to physical attacks on migrants of the kind seen in the eastern city of Chemnitz following the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old man in August.

Two men -- a Syrian and an Iraqi -- were arrested over the killing in Chemnitz, while another migrant is being sought by police.

Police say a 17-year-old Afghan man was attacked by Germans in the town of Hasselfelde late on September 15.

In a separate incident, three Somalis were attacked on September 15 by a group of Germans in the nearby town of Halberstadt.

With reporting by dpa and AP