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German Far Right Residents And Asylum Seekers In Clash

Far-right residents have clashed with asylum-seekers in a town in eastern Germany that has become a flashpoint for anti-refugee sentiment.

Some 80 men and women fought with 20 migrants and refugees in Bautzen, to the east of Dresden, late on Wednesday. The asylum-seekers were chased to their hostel and put under police guard.

Anti-migrant tensions have been mounting in Bautzen this year. Locals cheered when a building due to house migrants was set on fire in February. The following month, President Joachim Gauck was verbally abused when he visited Bautzen to discuss the influx of refugees in Germany.

Bautzen and the nearby town of Niedergurig are home to four asylum shelters. The town is 60km (38 miles) east of Dresden, where the “anti-Islamisation” Pegida movement began.

Since the arrival last year of 1.1 million irregular migrants and refugees in Germany, some areas, particularly eastern states, have seen a rise in anti-migrant violence as well as support for the anti-Islam AfD party.
Germany’s federal police force says there have been 700 attacks on asylum accommodation this year, including 57 arson attacks. Wednesday’s outbreak of violence in Bautzen points to an escalation of tensions in the town.

Serious Anxiety And Worries

The clashes appeared to be triggered by an incident the previous evening when a 32-year-old resident was hurt by a bottle being thrown. Residents on Wednesday accused asylum-seekers of taking over a square outside the central Kornmarkt shopping centre before fighting broke out.

Witnesses said when police asked the asylum-seekers to leave, they responded by hurling bottles and wooden slats. When the asylum-seekers began to disperse, they were pursued by a group of extremists.

An ambulance crew was caught up in the clashes when far-right residents hurled stones at their vehicle as they tried to take an 18-year-old Moroccan asylum-seeker to hospital for treatment.

Local mayor Alexander Ahrens appealed for calm and said he would increase police patrols in the area so that residents could use the Kornmarkt again. “From the many reactions of Bautzen citizens, as well as from tourists and local businesspeople – I understood that the conditions in our public square have triggered serious anxiety and worries,” he wrote on his Facebook page.