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Far-right Freital terrorist group charged

Eight German nationals have been formally charged with forming a far-right terrorist organization. They are also charged with carrying out five xenophobic or politically motivated attacks in Saxony.

Federal prosecutors confirmed on Tuesday that the seven men and one woman - aged between 19 and 38 - have been accused of forming the "Gruppe Freital," and carrying out five attacks on refugee and leftwing centers. All eight have been in custody since April. 

According to the investigators, the right-wing extremist group - named after a suburb of the eastern city of Dresden that has seen several anti-refugee protests - is responsible for five xenophobic or politically motivated attacks in Saxony. In a previous reports, three attacks were mentioned. 

"The goal of this group was to carry out bombing attacks on asylum-seeker facilities as well as homes, offices and vehicles of those with different political thinking," prosecutors said. "By doing that, the suspects wanted to create a climate of fear and repression."

Prosecutors allege the group made pipe bombs and other improvised explosive devices using powerful banned firecrackers from the Czech Republic. It is accused of several attacks, including blowing up the car of a Left party politician and a Left party office in Freital, as well as two bombings of refugee homes in which windows were blown out and one asylum-seeker suffered facial cuts.

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Arrests in Freital - Talk with Ralf Melzer, expert on right-wing extremism

The newspaper "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported that the gang had been active since July 2015. No one was killed in the campaign of violence, but prosecutors are pursuing charges of attempted murder, the report said, citing the indictment.

The accused were identified as: Timo S., 27; Patrick F., 25; Philipp W., 29; Justin S., 19; Maria K., 28; Mike S., 38; Sebastian W., 26; and Rico K., 38. Their last names were withheld in line with German privacy laws.

Timo S. and Patrick F. are accused of having a "central leadership role" in the organization. Seven of the suspects are also charged with attempted murder, while Mike S. is charged with accessory to attempted murder.

In April, the federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe took over the case after critics said the prosecutor's office in Dresden was not taking the case seriously enough.

jbh/kl (AP, dpa)

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