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Maritim hotel, Cologne

Thousands of left-wing activists to gather in Cologne to derail AfD congress

Police and aviation authorities imposed a four-day no-fly zone over Cologne city center ahead of Germany's anti-immigrant AfD party congress.

Published: April 21, 2017, 10:01 am

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    Some 50 000 left-wing protesters are planning massive rallies to block the event.

    Cologne imposed the no-fly zone ahead of the Alternative for Germany Party’s (AfD) convention scheduled to take place this weekend at Cologne’s Maritim Hotel. Adjacent areas around the Maritim Hotel will be cordoned off. Businesses in the area might be closed during the weekend, Rheinische Post reported.

    The Cologne conference comes days after AfD leader Frauke Petry announced that she will not run for chancellor in the upcoming general elections.

    A large police presence will be deployed amid security concerns, together with four-day no-fly zone that will last from Thursday until Monday. Private aircraft, including helicopters and drones, will be prohibited from flying over Cologne’s inner city, according to police. Only German military and police flights as well as rescue or emergency aircraft will be allowed.

    A police spokesman could not remember the last time a no-flight zone was imposed over the city, Die Welt reported. Leftist organisers are openly calling for “civil disobedience”. The activists, according to their campaign website, say they intend to “block” AfD members from entering the hotel by sitting and standing in their way.

    Internet websites from the extreme-left scene, posted the following messages: “All come to Cologne. It will be our feast and their hell. Last call: fire instead of confetti” and “We are calling for the AfD election campaign to be sabotaged as well as the AfD federal party conference in Cologne.”

    On one website masked individuals are shown next to a street blockade set up from burning rubbish bins and toilets – possibly taken in Frankfurt 2015. Police chief Juergen Mathies says that they had “concrete insights”, according to which extremists wanted revenge in Cologne against the police after the AfD party conference in 2016 Stuttgart.

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