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Ansbach blast: 'time to speed up deportations'

July 26, 2016

MPs say the deportation of failed asylum seekers must be sped up following the Ansbach suicide bombing. The Syrian man who detonated an explosive-packed rucksack had been refused permission to stay in Germany.

Police van in Ansbach
Image: Reuters/M.Rehle

Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year proudly declared a "welcoming culture" for refugees, Armin Schuster, the Christian Democrats homeland expert in the Bundestag warned the country needs a "farewell culture" too.

Schuster told the "Stuttgarter Zeitung" and the "Stuttgarter Nachrichten" newspapers Tuesday that Germany had failed to enforce the deportation of rejected asylum seekers. More than 200,000 failed claimants were still in the country, he said.

His comments follow revelations that a failed Syrian refugee blew himself up Sunday close to a bar in the small Bavarian city of Ansbach. The blast, which involved the detonation of a rucksack laden with explosives and shrapnel, also injured 15 others. Before the attack, the 27-year-old had pledged allegiance to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militant group's leader in a mobile video found later, authorities said, vowing to take "revenge against Germans for obstructing Islam."

Waited two years

Officials said the bomber came to Germany in August 2014 but was denied asylum several months later and had been due for deportation to Bulgaria, the first country where he registered.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the Syrian man's removal had been suspended temporarily because of his "psychological instability." But Bavarian authorities said he had received his expulsion orders nearly two weeks before he blew himself up. His deportation was expected to have taken place within 30 days.

Ansbach blast aftermath
Fifteen people were injured Sunday in the first suicide bombing on German soilImage: Reuters/M. Rehle

Refugee agency overworked

In his appeal for a speeding up of deportations, Schuster warned that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees was overworked and expressed doubts over whether the bureau could check the accuracy of refugees' countries of origin. As a result, many false or incomplete cases - where the claimant has no identity papers - may be allowing migrants to stay in the country when they don't deserve to.

"Some could get the impression they could get away with anything, because they don't realize how mildly the state reacts to those breaking the law," Schuster told the two papers.

The domestic policy spokesman for the Social Democrats' (SPD) parliamentary group, Burkhard Luschka, agreed that "we have to be better at enforcement" and that "asylum seekers or refugees who are rejected have to leave Germany."

Harder line needed

Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer also called for a harder line over deportations in the wake of Sunday's attack.

"Until now, there was a consensus that you don't deport rejected asylum seekers to a war zone," he told the "Münchner Merkur." "But we have to seriously consider how these people are treated in future, especially when they pose a threat or come up against the law."

Seehofer reminded Germans to be vigilant, describing the current security situation as "serious and threatening." He said he'd ordered a massive increase in staffing numbers for Bavaria's police force, following four violent incidents in southern Germany over the past week.

Last Monday, a man injured several people on a train near Würzburg, before being shot dead by police. On Friday, nine people were shot dead by a lone gunman with mental health issues, close to a shopping mall in Munich. As well as the Ansbach bombing on Sunday, a Syrian man killed a woman and injured others with a machete in the city of Reutlingen.

Authorities have discussed the possibility of deploying the military in the event of major terrorist attacks.

mm/kl (AFP, dpa)

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