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German Police Deploy Helicopter, Water Cannons at Massive Rally in Cologne

© REUTERS / Wolfgang RattayGerman riot police officers make a cordon to seal off left-wing and far-right protesters during a demonstration in Cologne
German riot police officers make a cordon to seal off left-wing and far-right protesters during a demonstration in Cologne - Sputnik International
Thousands have taken to the streets of the western German city of Cologne, local media reported Sunday. The protest, which started at 2 p.m. local time (13:00 GMT), was organized by anti-Islam Hooligans Against Salafists or Hogesa, the group behind violent riots in Cologne last year.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — German police used water cannons against thousands of demonstrators protesting against Islamic radicalism in the western city of Cologne, the RT television channel reported Sunday.

Police have deployed 3,500 officers, water cannons and a helicopter as they expected up to 23,000 to attend the rally, according to the German Bild newspaper.

The anti-Islamization Pegida movement in Cologne has also registered a rally for the afternoon, the newspaper reported.

Protestors hold a banner with manipulated images of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and German President Joachim Gauck, from left to right, during a demonstration of the PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West), marking the first anniversary of the anti-Islam group in Dresden, eastern Germany, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015. - Sputnik International
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A number of counter-demonstrations and events are due to take place along with the rally, according to the media outlet.

The first Hogesa rally, which took place on October 26, 2014, turned into clashes with police. Some 50 police officers were wounded during the violence.

Far-right movements are gaining support in Germany amid rising anti-migrant sentiment as Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

Earlier this month, Henriette Reker, a pro-refugee mayoral candidate in Cologne fell victim to a suspected xenophobic stabbing attack one day ahead of the vote. Reker was later elected mayor of the western German city.

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