German police warn of racist attacks on pro-refugee politicians

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 22, 2015 7:11 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police warned on Thursday of a growing risk of racially motivated attacks on politicians by right-wing radicals angry about an influx of migrants, and said crimes directed at refugee shelters were rising dramatically.

The warning comes five days after Germans were shocked by the stabbing of Henriette Reker, a mayoral candidate in the city of Cologne. She was stabbed in the neck and seriously wounded on the eve of Sunday's election, which she won.

Germany is struggling to cope with the arrival of an expected 800,000 to 1 million migrants this year, many from war zones in the Middle East, and politicians are openly worrying about a potential rise in right-wing radicalism.

The BKA federal police said in the third quarter alone, 285 offences were reported against asylum-seekers' shelters, compared with 198 for the whole of last year. The crimes included arson, criminal damage and incitement.

So far this year, 576 crimes on refugee accommodation were reported. The BKA said there was also an increased risk of aggression towards "people perceived as responsible, for example politicians or people who run the shelters".

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement: "The rise in xenophobic violence is shameful for our country."

Reker has been woken from an artificially induced coma and could make a full recovery, media have reported.

An independent candidate with the support of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, liberal Free Democrats and Greens, she is known to have helped refugees. Media have reported that the attacker has links to right-wing radicals.

On Thursday, police in the southern state of Bavaria arrested three people with a right-wing background and seized firearms from property linked to them, state Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said.

(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke; Editing by Mark Trevelyan; Reporting by Madeline Chambers)