Berlin GERMANY SQUATTER PROTEST.jpg
German riot police forces gather in front of a housing complex in Berlin's Rigaer Street, where a demonstration of left-wing supporters of a group of squatters turned tense, in Berlin, Germany 09 July 2016 evening.
Photograph: EPA/MAURIZIO GAMBARINI

A night of clashes between anti-capitalist protesters and police in Berlin left 123 officers injured, according to figures released Sunday, as the German capital's squatter scene faced off with authorities over house clearances.

The city's police force said 86 protesters were arrested on Saturday night in "the most aggressive and violent demonstration of the past five years."

An estimated 3,500 people turned out to protest efforts by the Berlin authorities to clear a squat in what was once East Berlin. There was a high police presence in the area ahead of the event, with 1,800 officers deployed to keep the peace.

Police said members of the hard-left hurled bottles, stones and fireworks at the officers.

Arsonists reportedly set fire to vehicles across the city. Since a major operation to clear the squat in Rigaer Strasse on June 22, barely a night has passed without reports of such arson attacks.

Berlin has a long-established squatters' scene, which emerged after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 in the city's former communist half. Many occupied properties now find themselves in gentrified neighbourhoods and highly sought-after real estate areas.

Politicians in the city senate have been at odds on whether to open up a dialogue with the protesters. Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller is open to the idea, which also has support from smaller left-wing parties.

But Berlin's Senator of the Interior Frank Henkel has rubbished the idea and described the protest as a "leftist orgy of violence."

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