German minister condemns riots in front of asylum shelter

AP News
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Posted: Aug 22, 2015 1:01 PM

BERLIN (AP) — The German government on Saturday harshly condemned riots in front of a new asylum shelter near Dresden in eastern Germany which led to 31 injured police officers.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas wrote on Twitter that Germany will "never tolerate that people are threatened and attacked in our country."

Maas said authorities will use the "toughness of the rule of law to strike back" against right-wing rioters like those who attacked police Friday night and blocked the road to an asylum shelter in Heidenau near Dresden, intending to stop migrants from moving in.

Among the 600 protesters, who remained mostly calm, there were rioters throwing bottles, stones and firecrackers at officers. Police responded with pepper spray to disperse the rioters, the German news agency dpa reported.

The first asylum-seekers were not able to move into the home until early Saturday — hours later than planned. Up to 600 migrants are expected to find shelter in the former warehouse.

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, by far the most in the 28-nation European Union.