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Germany

Rise in politically-motivated violence in Germany

A sharp rise in the number of crimes committed by right-wing extremists drove the number of politically motivated offences in Germany to a record high last year, the interior ministry said on Monday.

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Demonstrators march against violence in Passau after the city's police chief was targetted by rightists

The number of such offences rose by 11.4 percent to 31,801 - the highest level since the statistics were first collected in 2001. Of the total, 20,422 were linked to right-wing extremists, including violent attacks that killed two people.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble described the figures as "worrying", and urged people to support the government's efforts to crack down on extremism and intolerance.

Bundesinnenminister Wolfgang Schäuble

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is "worried" by the rise in hate crimes

Far-right politically motivated crimes rose by 16 percent on the year. The ministry said the figures were boosted by the inclusion for the first time of "propaganda crimes" whose perpetrators were unknown.

Such crimes typically involve displaying swastikas. They and other Nazi symbols are banned in Germany.

There was also a dramatic rise in crime by left-wing extremists which coincided with campaigning during regional elections. Acts of violence targetted political events organised by far-right political parties.

Petra Pau, domestic issues spokeswoman for the Left party said: "Right-wing extremism, racism and anti-semitism are in this country a danger to life and limb."

Meanwhile, ahead of a possible repeat of politically-motivated violence coinciding with annual May 1 Labor Day celebrations, the chairman of the German Police Officer's Union, Konrad Freiberg, said the dramatic increase in vandalism by more than 50 percent should be taken as a warning signal to the authorities.

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