German police sprayed left-wing protesters with a water cannon to keep them apart from an anti-Islam demonstration by a far-right group in western Germany.

Some 3,500 police in full riot gear were in Cologne on Sunday afternoon, sometimes stepping in to keep the two groups from fighting.

About 10,000 people — including many families waving signs reading "refugees welcome" — were protesting the demonstration Sunday by 1,000 from a group called "Hooligans against Salafists," the dpa news agency reported.

The more-radical offshoot of Dresden's anti-Islam PEGIDA group had clashed with counter-protesters last year in Cologne, injuring dozens. Police have stepped up measures this year to try and prevent similar violence.