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Police in Germany reported sporadic violence during protests against the country’s pandemic restrictions, with one protester in the eastern city of Lichtenstein biting an officer and another attempting to steal a service weapon.

Tens of thousands of people in total took to the streets of dozens of German cities for weekly marches that organizers called “walks” in an attempt to circumvent restrictions on public gatherings. Counter-protests also took place in cities like Rostock and Trier, the dpa news agency reported.

Most of the rallies have been peaceful, although many are breaking social distancing rules, prompting officers to intervene.

Police in the state of Saxony, eastern Saxony, said the incident occurred Monday evening in Lichtenstein, about 20 km (12 miles) west of Chemnitz, when officers attempted to pull around 60 rowdy people off a march to verify their identity. Several of the protesters attacked the police and sprayed them with chemical irritants.

“One person attempted to seize an officer’s service weapon and another police officer was bitten by a rally participant,” Saxony police said in a statement.

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Participants in a protest against the coronavirus measures pass through Greifswald, Germany on Monday evening. Photograph: Stefan Sauer / AP

In Bautzen, further east, some participants in a march of 600 people tried to break a police cordon. Officers responded with pepper spray and batons. In Magdeburg, capital of neighboring Saxony-Anhalt, protesters threw bottles and fireworks at police. No police were injured, police said.

The protests took place ahead of a Tuesday meeting of the German Pandemic Expert Group, which is expected to submit further recommendations to the government on how to respond to the outbreak. A meeting of state and federal leaders is scheduled for Friday.

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