Police officer bitten amid violence over COVID restrictions in Germany

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Police officers block protesters on Monday evening in the city centre of Magdeburg.
Police officers block protesters on Monday evening in the city centre of Magdeburg.   -   Copyright  Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/dpa via AP

Police in Germany have reported more violence at recent demonstrations against the country’s pandemic restrictions.

One protester in the eastern town of Lichtenstein bit an officer, police say, while another attempted to steal a weapon.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets across Germany for weekly marches -- which have been called “strolls” in an attempt to bypass restrictions on public gatherings.

Counter-protests were also held in towns such as Rostock and Trier, the DPA news agency reported.

Most of the rallies passed peacefully, though many broke rules on social distancing, prompting officers to intervene and arrest dozens.

Police in Saxony said the incident one officer was bitten on Monday while trying to check the identities of people at a demonstration. Several of the protesters attacked police and sprayed them with chemical irritants.

“One person attempted to seize an officer’s service weapon and another police officer suffered a bite wound from a participant of the gathering,” Saxony police said in a statement.

In Bautzen, some participants of a 600-strong march attempted to break through a police cordon before officers responded with pepper spray and batons.

In Magdeburg, the capital of neighbouring Saxony-Anhalt state, protesters also hurled bottles and fireworks at police.

The protests took place before a meeting Tuesday of Germany’s pandemic expert panel, which is expected to submit new recommendations to the government for how to respond to the outbreak. A meeting of state and federal leaders is scheduled for Friday.