National news: 12 arrested after violent clashes at English Defence League demonstration in Liverpool

Twelve people have been arrested after English Defence League demonstrators clashed with anti-fascist protesters in Liverpool.

Merseyside Police said they used legislation under the Public Order Act to disperse the planned EDL demonstration in the interests of public safety.

The two groups staged protests on Lime Street in the city centre on Saturday afternoon.

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Deputy Chief Constable Carl Foulkes said: "Following a number of arrests for public order offences and increasing animosity between both groups the decision was made to disperse those involved in the EDL procession in the interests of the safety of those working, living and visiting the city centre.

"At some points members of the left wing were seen to throw darts, and flares were also activated.

"The safety of the public is paramount and due to the rising tensions between both groups the decision was made to halt the procession using Section 12 of the Public Order Act."

A force spokesman said 12 people were arrested on suspicion of offences under the Public Order Act.

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The EDL demonstration, which the group said was being held to highlight issues including Islamic terrorism, was initially contained to a side street after the anti-fascist protesters gathered opposite the Lord Warden pub, on London Road, where EDL members had gathered from about midday.

Anti-fascist protesters were later moved back by police as the procession moved onto Lime Street, with a police containment.

Police vans and officers in riot gear separated the two groups.

The march was brought to a standstill outside Lime Street train station as anti-fascist protesters sat in the middle of the road.

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At times bottles were seen being thrown between the groups and loud bangs, believed to be firecrackers, were heard.

The EDL group was moved to the loading bay of Lime Street station at about 3pm.

Police said demonstrators were escorted from there on to trains and out of the city.

Mr Foulkes said officers from Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire and North Wales forces, as well as British Transport Police, were involved in the police operations.

He added: "I would like to thank members of the public and businesses in the city centre for their patience as this matter was dealt with."