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German police raid far-right 'gun club'

April 27, 2017

More than 100 officers have swooped on 11 sites in the state of Bavaria belonging to members of an extremist gun club. Investigators believe they may have been planning attacks on minorities.

Symbolbild Polizei in Deutschland
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Gentsch

Police in Bavaria raided properties belonging to members of a self-styled "gun club" on Thursday, without giving details of any arrests made.

Eleven sites in Munich, and the towns of Kaufbeuren, some 90 kilometers west of the Bavarian capital, and Bad Rodach, in northern Bavaria, were targeted.

Some 120 police took part in the raids, including tactical response units, according to the Bavarian Interior Ministry.

During the searches, two illegal weapons were confiscated.

Links to PEGIDA

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said some members of the "Bavarian Firearm Sports Group Munich" also belong to the local branch of the anti-Islam, anti-migrant group PEGIDA, or "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West."

He said the two groups had strong connections, especially at the leadership level.

The nationalist, anti-Islam PEGIDA movement started in Dresden in 2014 and has held several large demonstrations across Germany.

Herrmann said the gun club is suspected of being PEGIDA's "armed branch." 

Several members had distributed propaganda from right-wing extremist parties.

Herrmann added that authorities "are concerned [the gun club] might try to pursue PEGIDA Munich's anti-constitutional goals in a combative and aggressive way, for example by attacking minorities, such as refugees and Muslims."

Investigators are now deciding whether they have sufficient evidence to ban the gun club from operating.

PEGIDA's offshoot in Bavaria has been under observation by security services for more than a year, according to the daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung." 

Countering right-wing extremism

mm/sms (AP, dpa)