Supporters and opponents of Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal immigration policy held rival demonstrations on Saturday in the city of Chemnitz, where last weekend's fatal stabbing of a German man by two migrants sparked violent far-right protests.
More than 1,200 policemen kept watch over the rallies in the eastern city, where deep divisions over Merkel's 2015 decision to welcome a million asylum-seekers have flared up since the killing of 35-year-old Daniel Hillig six days ago.
Leftist protesters started a rival march under the slogan 'Heart instead of Hate' at in the centre of Chemnitz, in former communist East Germany, the region of the country where the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) is strongest.
Hundreds of leftist demonstrators gathered in a main square in the city, where only a few days ago far-right demonstrators clashed with police.
Huge crowds waving German flags march in Chemnitz, east Germany, on Saturday in a fresh anti-immigration protest
Right-wing supporters wave German flags during the demonstration in Chemnitz on Saturday after the death of a German
At the other end of town, far-right demonstrators gathered near a large bust of Karl Marx before starting a march through the city, which was formerly named after the father of communism. Riot police watched from a distance.
Merkel, who on Friday wrapped up a three-day visit to Africa, has not yet commented on the events in the city, near the Czech border.
'Where is she? Travelling in Africa,' said a grey-haired man addressing the anti-immigrant crowd. 'She should come here and face us citizens.'
Supporters of far-right groups, including PEGIDA and Alternative for Germany (AfD), say their march is to mourn the man who was stabbed to death and condemn what they say is government inaction in the face of rising migrant crime.
Their leftist opponents accuse them of using the murder to stoke racial hatred against migrants and refugees.
'Who was the stabbing victim?,' asked a woman in her 50s at the leftist demonstration, declining to give her name. 'The far-right is exploiting his death by saying: 'A German has been murdered.' But he was an anti-fascist and