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Thousands protest outside far-right party conference in Germany

Delegates of Alternative for Germany were given police protection ahead of the event in Cologne.

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Thousands protest outside far-right party conference in Germany

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Thousands of left-wing protesters have tried to disrupt a conference being held by Germany’s far-right, anti-immigration party.

Delegates of Alternative for Germany were given police protection ahead of the event in Cologne.

One officer was hurt as police held back protesters from the entrance of the conference.

Around 50,000 demonstrators, and 4,000 police officers, are expected over the two-day conference.

The deeply divded party is facing crisis talks over its future.

AfD’s co-leader Frauke Petry told the conference: “We have, although there aren’t yet majorities at the ballot boxes in Germany, given hope back to millions of German voters that there is a democratic and spiritual-moral change in our home country and we bear a substantial responsibility for that already.”

A split has emerged in the party because some want it to tone down its extreme right rhetoric in a bid to boost its chances of gaining power.

Ms Petry suffered a crushing blow at the start of the congress when delegates voted down her motion calling for efforts to forge alliances with other parties rather than seek to be a long term opposition force.

It comes after all mainstream parties in Germany said they would refuse to work with the AfD in a coalition, ahead of the election this year.

However, Ms Petry’s critics deny there is a split  in the party.

She has already announced that she will not lead the national election campaign for the party after months of internal power struggles.