BERLIN (AP) — German police used pepper spray Friday to disperse dozens of far-right protesters blocking the road leading to a planned shelter for refugees.
The incident followed a peaceful protest by several hundred people against the use of a former hardware store to house asylum seekers in Heidenau, southeast of Dresden.
German news agency dpa reported that the protest was organized by the far-right National Democratic Party, or NPD. No information on arrests was immediately available.
Earlier Friday, police in Berlin said they had arrested two men, aged 21 and 25, and a 41-year-old woman in connection with a failed arson attack on a home for asylum-seekers in Berlin late Thursday. The suspects' named weren't released.
A watchman at the temporary housing unit in Berlin's Marzahn neighborhood saw a group in dark clothing throw burning wood into the compound just before midnight. A resident was able to extinguish the fire quickly, police said.
Police in Bavaria said Friday they are also investigating an arson attack on a refugee shelter in the town of Neustadt an der Waldnaab. Nobody was injured.
Germany has been largely welcoming to the tens of thousands of refugees arriving each month but the attacks on them and on refugee shelters have been on the rise. During the first six months of the year there were at least 173 far-right incidents related to refugees in Germany — including eight cases of arson — considerably more than during the same period last year.
The German government has spoken out strongly against the attacks, with Chancellor Angela Merkel saying there could be "no justification" for them.
Some 800,000 refugees are expected in Germany this year alone, by far the most in the 28-nation European Union.
On Friday, Merkel's spokesman said Germany could be proud of taking in so many refugees.
"Germany's asylum law, which is a basic right to asylum against political persecution, is certainly one of the best achievements of our constitution," Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.