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Two fires at refugee homes in German state of Thuringia

Two fires broke out in the eastern state of Thuringia over the weekend, one in a refugee home, the other in a designated shelter. No one was hurt. Police say at least one of the fires could have been arson.

The first fire broke out late on Saturday in the town of Bischhagen near Heiligenstadt. The building was empty, but it had been earmarked to serve as accommodation for refugees. Police are not ruling out a technical fault, but are also investigating possible arson.

Early on Sunday morning, a second fire was put out in Friemar near the town of Gotha, also in Thuringia. It started in the mobile toilets adjacent to the house before spreading to the gymnasium, where the 10 asylum seekers housed there managed to get out unhurt. They have now been moved to another facility.

Thuringia's premier, Bodo Ramelow, said he was dismayed and appalled, calling the incident in Friemar a "cowardly murder attack and a terror attack on our society" on Twitter.

He added that violence and incitement to hatred could have no place in Thuringia. Police suspect the fire near Gotha could have been an arson attack, but have not ruled out that a lit cigarette in one of the toilets caused the blaze.

Germany has seen a number of violent protests and attacks at refugee shelters, most notably in Heidenau near the eastern city of Dresden. There were also attacks in neighboring Saxony-Anhalt as well as near Berlin and in Hesse and Lower Saxony.

ng/sms (epd, dpa)

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