East Germany's hard-line communist government has stepped up attacks on pro-democracy protesters, but hopes of compromise flickered in two cities worst hit by demonstrations and riots. While the Interior Ministry accused ``hooligans'' of injuring more than 100 policeman, there was a startling statement of qualified sympathy from a leader of the workers militia used to break up protests throughout the county.

Tensions eased in nearby Dresden, hit by the fiercest rioting of the past week, after news of an unprecedented meeting Monday between the mayor and 20 protesters.

Tensions have eased in the key provincial cities since Monday night's Leipzig rally of almost 70,000. But signals from the central Party and government apparatus suggest high-level alarm over the size of the Leipzig rally - the biggest since a failed anti-Communist rebellion in 1953.

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