Swedish police on Saturday detained three people on suspicion of assault following a protest rally in central Stockholm calling on the government to step down over its handling of the migration crisis.

An estimated 100 people took part in the rally staged by the People's Demonstration group, while about 200 counterdemonstrators chanted slogans.

The group wants Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's government to resign and hold fresh elections, in order to make way for a government that "took the interest of the Swedish people first."

There was a large police presence in the Swedish capital and officers managed to keep the rival groups apart at the central square, Norrmalmstorg.

The three were detained after the event and were suspected of assault in connection with a fight, Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren told dpa.

Earlier, police said a large group of men late Friday had distributed leaflets in central Stockholm with calls for "action" against illegal immigrants or unaccompanied minors.

Some scuffled with police near the central station. One man was arrested after punching a plainclothes police officer in the face late Friday, but released on Saturday, Lindgren said.

Eight others were briefly held - one for carrying a knuckle-duster, three on suspicion of disorderly conduct and four were drunk.

Police had no reports that any migrants had been assaulted late Friday. Lindgren said police were treating the incidents as separate events.

Sweden - a country of almost 10 million - has along with Germany and Austria been among the top destinations in Europe for people fleeing conflict in countries such as Syria and Iraq.

A record 163,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, straining resources and capacity at reception centres and local municipalities.

The government in November introduced temporary border controls and has announced plans to tighten rules for asylum seekers, for instance no longer giving permanent residency to all people granted refuge.

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