First Minister Alex Salmond entered the controversy surrounding Nigel Farage's chaotic visit to Scotland by telling the Ukip leader he knows "absolutely nothing about Scotland".

Answering Mr Farage's challenge to condemn the actions of pro-independence protesters who barracked him inside an Edinburgh pub, Mr Salmond said: "We can frankly do without Ukip who dislike everybody and know absolutely nothing about Scotland."

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He described Mr Farage as "someone who is out-with the context of normal politics".

Earlier in the day Mr Farage had likened parts of the independence campaign to fascism after being rescued by police when he was mobbed by rowdy protesters shouting "racist Nazi scum".

Speaking about the incident this morning, Mr Farage said: "It was a demonstration dressed up as being anti-racism but in fact in itself was deeply racist, with a total hatred of the English and a desire for Scotland to be independent from Westminster. I mean, my goodness me, if this is the face of Scottish nationalism it's a pretty ugly picture.

"The anger, the snarling, the shouting, the swearing was all linked in to a desire for the Union Jack to be burnt and extinguished from Scotland forever. There's absolutely no doubt who these people were or what they stood for."

He added: "I must say I have heard before that there are some parts of Scottish nationalism that are akin to fascism but yesterday I saw that face-to-face."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claimed the "anti-racists turned racist" and urged Mr Salmond to "speak out against this attack on free speech".

The row deepened when it emerged that one of the protesters, arrested for allegedly pouring a drink over the Ukip politician, is English.

Mike Shaw, president of Edinburgh University Students' Association's Socialist Society, said on Twitter: "Ukip protest yesterday branded as 'anti-English'. As a proud Englishman, arrested yesterday for protesting, I dispute these claims."

Radical Independence spokesman Liam O'Hare said: "Farage's attempts to paint our protest as anti-English is pathetic. Our vision is for a Scotland that welcomes people from across the world, including England.

"This is the exact opposite of Farage and Ukip's vision for Scotland, which is a parochial, bigoted British nationalism. We're against his racist ideas, not where he comes from."

HeraldScotland's new politics blogger Andy Bollen reflects on the Farage furore

Mr Farage's comments followed disarray after a press conference in Edinburgh last night, as he attempted to leave the Canons Gait pub on the Royal Miles by taxi as protesters blocked his path. He was forced to return to the pub, where police barricaded the doors against the protesters until officers in a riot van came to his aid.

Asked if he thought the SNP leadership were directly implicated in yesterday's events, Mr Farage said: "No, but these people were supporters of Scottish nationalism and virulently opposed to the English."

He added: "I would like to hear Alex Salmond come out and condemn that type of behaviour and I challenge him today to do that."

The SNP said Mr Farage had "completely lost the plot".

Two men were arrested after the protest and Mr Farage was escorted from the scene "to ensure his safety", Police Scotland said.

Mr Farage's comments came as Ukip continued its surge in England, storming the previously solid Labour stronghold of Rawmarsh in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, in a council by-election.

He was in Edinburgh to promote his candidate Otto Inglis in the Aberdeen Donside by-election.

A spokesman for the pro-independence campaign group Yes Scotland said it condemns all forms of intimidation.

"We had no knowledge or involvement in any of the scenes on the Royal Mile during [Mr Farage's] visit to Edinburgh," he said.

"Yes Scotland continues to run a positive campaign and we condemn any and all forms of intimidation."

An SNP spokesman said: "Anyone who heard the interview with Nigel Farage this morning would have thought he has completely lost the plot.

"Nothing he says can be treated with a shred of credibility and his partners in the No campaign should be embarrassed about his behaviour."

The Ukip press conference initially descended into disarray when around 100 protesters, mainly students and members of the Radical Independence Campaign, shouted taunts including: "Leave Scotland, go back to England!" Blunter protesters barracked him with cries of "racist scumbag".

For a while, Mr Farage continued to rail against the EU, Scottish independence and wind farms, but as the pub grew busier, noisier and angrier, anxious bar staff intervened and chucked everyone out.

He took refuge in a passing taxi, but the driver refused to take the fare after the car was mobbed by demonstrators.

There he remained trapped for several minutes as police closed a section of the Royal Mile to traffic and officers arrived to escort him back to the pub, where he was locked in for his own safety.

After a spell locked inside the pub, he was ushered into a police van and driven away as more abuse loud-hailed after him.

The party is hoping to build on recent successes in England and do well in the forthcoming Aberdeen Donside by-election.

Protest organiser James Moohan, vice-president of Edinburgh College Students Association and an NUS official, said Ukip's calls for greater curbs on immigration were "bad for British politics". He added: "We want to send a clear message they are not welcome here and we hope the people of Aberdeen do the same."

Earlier Mr Farage had insisted his party would perform "creditably" in the Aberdeen Donside by-election on June 20.

He said the SNP's support for Scottish independence and membership of the EU was a "non-starter intellectually".

On Ukip's core policy of removing Britain from the EU he insisted: "I've no reason to think the people of Scotland would not want to live in a proper democracy rather than be governed by failed old men based in Brussels."

In answer to by-election questions from a local newspaper reporter, Mr Farage also – happily – revealed his ignorance of the Doric terms "quine" and "loon".

"I've been to Aberdeen once in my life. Ask the candidate! What a stupid bloody question!" he said cheerfully.

The Ukip leader was in Scotland for a private meeting with key supporters, also attended by Stuart Wheeler, the betting tycoon and party donor.